Elton John Musical Lestat Will Take a Bite Out of San Francisco in Late 2005

By Kenneth Jones
and Ernio Hernandez
31 Mar 2005

Elton John
Elton John

Anne Rice's most indelible vampire character will sing in San Francisco starting in late 2005, with the world premiere pre-Broadway engagement of Lestat, by Elton John and Bernie Taupin.

The Curran Theatre will host the run. Dates are yet to be announced, but late 2005 is the promise from the Best of Broadway series there.

"Lestat, one of Anne Rice's most celebrated literary characters, is being brought to the stage in the first-ever collaboration of the legendary team of Elton John (music) and Bernie Taupin (lyrics) on a Broadway production," according to the Curran. "Based on characters and incidents from Ms. Rice's best-selling novels, 'Interview with the Vampire' and 'The Vampire Lestat,' the book is by Linda Woolverton and Robert Jess Roth directs."

Woolverton and Roth previously collaborated on Disney's Beauty and the Beast. The new musical is expected on Broadway in spring 2006, a spokesman confirmed.



Musical staging is by Matt West, scenic design by Derek McLane, costume design by Susan Hilferty, lighting design by Kenneth Posner and visual concept design by David McKean.

Lestat "is the lush and rich story of a man who escapes the tyranny of his oppressive family only to have his life taken from him. Thrust into the seductive and sensual world of an immortal vampire, Lestat tries to reconcile his innate sense of good with his primal need to exist."

The show with a score by legendary pop writers John and Taupin ("Rocket Man," "Candle in the Wind") had a private reading for the producers and creative team in November 2003, Playbill.com previously reported.

The cast for the 29-hour, Equity-approved reading of the early draft of the show included James Barbour (Jane Eyre) as Lestat, Jack Noseworthy (Sweet Smell of Success), Steve Blanchard (Beauty and the Beast) and Max Von Essen (Dance of the Vampires).

The project, from new producer Warner Bros. Theatre Ventures was announced in May 2003, aiming for a 2005 staging.

John and Taupin are known for their internationally successful songs "Someone Saved My Life Tonight," "Daniel," "Rocket Man," "Candle In The Wind," "Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me," "Bennie and the Jets" and more. The score of the show is said to be more legit and traditional than pop and rock.

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When it was announced in spring 2003, the project's working title was The Vampire Lestat. "'Interview With the Vampire' is one of my favorite books and Anne Rice is one of my favorite authors," John said in an earlier statement. "Although this project has taken a while to come together, I firmly believe we have the right team in place. The Vampire Lestat is the first stage musical that I've written with Bernie which makes it even more special for me."

Taupin added, "Anne had always loved the idea of seeing her Vampire Chronicles set in some sort of serious and seductive musical setting and for all of the parties involved this is the opportunity of a lifetime. Our intention is make a classically-based show that is stripped of gothic clichés and that shows the vampire dealing with his damnation on a more realistic and human level. Please let me make this clear this is NOT a rock opera. Our hope is that it will be stylish, sexy, intelligent, rich and hypnotically dark."

The title character has been adapted for the screen in such films as "Interview With the Vampire" and "Queen of the Damned." Both movies drew on the original best-selling novels by Anne Rice.

Recording artist Elton John, known internationally for his pop songwriting career of over 30 years, is currently represented on Broadway by the long-running Disney collaborations The Lion King and Aida. Warner Bros. Theatre Ventures marks its debut with the project. The parent company is Warner Brothers Entertainment.

The organization, which was founded more than 75 years ago started as a motion picture company, has become a multi-faceted entertainment company branching into television, home video, animation and international theatres.

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Vampires have inspired a number of musicals in recent seasons. Jim Steinman's Dance of the Vampires — based on the Roman Polanski film "The Fearless Vampire Killers" — saw the Broadway stage briefly in 2002-03. Bram Stoker's classic vampire tale "Dracula" was adapted into three separate incarnations that have been seen in regional theatres: Dracula: A Chamber Musical (book and lyrics by Richard Ouzounian with music and orchestrations by Marek Norman); Dracula — The Game of Love (book and lyrics by Michael Lazar with music by Richard Oberacker); and Dracula, the Musical (book and lyrics by Christopher Hampton and Don Black with music by Frank Wildhorn).

Elton John's musical version of Billy Elliott is dawning in London.

The San Francisco Best of Broadway series will also include the pre-Broadway run of A Chorus Line, the musical White Christmas, Conor McPherson's Shining City and the Johnny Cash musical Ring of Fire.