This afternoon I went, as promised, to see the new musical Lestat that’s being previewed here before heading off to Broadway. The crowd was comprised of your standard fare of musical theater goers from young couples to hordes of blue haired ladies. Not the goth fan-girl outing I was half-expecting. And it seemed to be a sold out performance as well which was a little surprising.
The staging is a little strange since they use a mix of regular sets and small movies projected onto pieces of the set. All in all it was an interesting concept that fell pretty flat and outright laughable at times and was passable at others. The sets themselves, although minimalist were what you would expect from this caliber of show which means they were very well done indeed.
The first act opened with Lestat introducing that he’s actually re-telling his story just like in the book but he was alone with his trusty Apple Power book. No Christian Slater in this version. At least Vampires know that Mac’s are the shiznit. It then flashes back to his origins and the show starts to follow him through the familiar Lestat story. I honestly can’t recall the first two songs because I was enthralled with the amount of spit that Lestat (Hugh Panero) was spewing as he sang and even talked. It’s hard to take anything seriously when the star has a huge gob of drool running down his chin. I shit you not. All I could think about was “why doesn’t he wipe his damn face?”. The guy in front of me mentioned to his friend at intermission that the screen over the orchestra was there just to keep the all spit off of them. In all fairness everyone does it when they’re singing and I was in the second row so it was really pronounced but this guy was a spit spraying machine.
The dialogue was horribly clumsy at points and just didn’t really flow at all. I found myself trying not to laugh out loud at points because it was all just so damn silly. As far as the music went it was done completely and utterly wrong. Never once did I give a rats ass about any of the feelings of the characters because they were engulfed in this prozac pansy jingle land that wasn’t in the least bit dark or disturbing or compelling. These are KILLERS we’re seeing on stage and there are songs you’d think were straight out of the Lion King. They picked the wrong team to score this. Period. In the first act there isn’t one single song that stayed with me. I was contemplating leaving at the intermission because traditionally the first act has all the good stuff. I decided to stick it out for you, my faithful readers. Oh and the fact that the ticket cost $100 was pretty good motivation too.
I was pleasantly surprised by the second act. There were 2 songs that, albeit don’t remotely belong in a Vampire musical were quite good. Claudia’s (Allison Fischer) big number, “I Want More” was the only memorable song from the whole thing. Lestat had a great song near the end but it too would have been better placed in another story.
Now we get to the performances. There was not one bad actor or singer on that stage today. They were all world class and I’d go see any of them again in anything but this. Seriously, amazing work all around. Bravo!
I keep going back to why in the hell would they turn this into a musical? It never really was a fit in my mind and after sitting through 2 and a half hours of it it bordered on parody. My final assessment is that if you didn’t speak english it would have been much more entertaining but the clumsy dialog and just ridiculous juxtaposition of the wrong music with a story-line about Vampires doesn’t work. All in all I’d give it 2 out of 5. With that said it’ll probably be a huge hit and make zillions of dollars but my advice is to skip it and just rent the movie.