- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 8, 2003

NEW YORK — No capes, no crosses and definitely no tap-dancing vampires. Longtime musical collaborators Elton John and Bernie Taupin are planning to bring “The Vampire Lestat” to Broadway, and they promise a production free of gothic excess.

“It will be dark, sexy and scary, but that doesn’t mean it has to be cliche,” Mr. Taupin said yesterday at a news conference to announce the show.

The project, based on the character from Anne Rice’s novels, is the first production from Warner Bros. Theatre Ventures and is scheduled to hit the stage in 2005. Mr. John already has two productions on Broadway, the Disney hits “Aida” and “The Lion King.” This is Mr. Taupin’s first Broadway effort.

“Bernie and I have been huge fans of Anne Rice’s books for a long, long time,” Mr. John said, adding that the New Orleans-based author supported the project and has heard and approved of the music that has been composed so far.

Besides Mr. John, the production has others with Disney connections. The book is being written by Linda Woolverton, who wrote the stage version of “Beauty and the Beast,” and it will be directed by Robert Jess Roth, who was nominated for a Tony award for his direction of that Disney production.

Mr. John said he expects all the content — music, lyrics and book — to be completed by the end of September and hopes to have a read-through in November.

The collaborators said the musical will be based on three Rice novels — “Interview With the Vampire,” “The Vampire Lestat” and “Queen of the Damned” — with emphasis on the first two. (A movie version of “Queen of the Damned” came out last year, starring the late singer Aaliyah as an ancient vampire. Neil Jordan’s 1994 film version of “Interview With the Vampire” starred Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise.)

Mr. John said the music he is composing is for an orchestra and will have no electronic components or other modern sounds because the books’ settings are mostly from a couple of hundred years ago.

“I didn’t see where any modern music could possibly come in without sounding ridiculous,” he said.

When asked who could play Lestat, Mr. John said whoever it is will have to have charisma but, most important, will have to be able to sing. “My main concern is finding people who can sing the songs properly,” he said.

Broadway’s last outing with vampires was the musical “Dance of the Vampires,” based on the Roman Polanski movie “The Fearless Vampire Killers.” The production, which starred Michael Crawford, closed in January after just 56 performances and a loss estimated at more than $12 million.

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