The Tony Award for Best Comedy goes to…

lestat the musical
You may have seen the posters on bus stops or in Muni stations around town for the new musical Lestat, based on Anne Rice’s book Interview with a Vampire. Yes, I said a musical. And who did they get to write the music for this staple of gothic fiction? Bauhaus? Nope. Siouxsie and the Banshees? Nope. Dead can Dance? Nope nope nope. They picked goth rock super stars Sir Elton John and Bernie Taupin. I’m sure Sir Elton a.k.a. the Queen of the Damned is sure to lay down some gut rotting tunes for this blood sucking undead toe tapping fest of coffin rock.

I read the old Vampire Chronicles back in the day and even enjoyed the film quite a bit but the thought of turning this into a musical just brings a smile to my face and sets off a whole slew of red flags that all point to hi-larity. So much so that I got my ticket in my hot litttle hand and will be seeing a matinee on Saturday with a full report for your New Years Eve enjoyment. This is a preview run of the show before it moves straight on to Broadway. I’m guessing there will be a few whoopsies since they’re still getting the kinks out but what to do if the entire thing is one big kink? Or at the very least one very bad idea.

A few links with some background on the musical:
“Fan Club” with soundbites! – this site is actually a marketing site but they call it a fan club. Cheap.
“Lestat,” the musical: Elton John meets Anne Rice but is it love at first bite?
The melody of immortality
What the blogs are saying

8 Comments so far

  1. H. (aka NC_State_gal) (unregistered) on December 28th, 2005 @ 5:53 pm

    Can’t wait to read the review. I heard about this musical several weeks ago and must admit that I was a bit surprised.

  2. Neil Nelson (unregistered) on December 29th, 2005 @ 12:34 am

    EEEKKKK!!! I felt so sorry for the talent on the stage!!! Jeepers!! I find more excitement in Aunt Clara’s doorknobs on Bewitched than LESTAT’s internal struggle. EXTREMELY BAD!!!

  3. Jason D- (unregistered) on December 29th, 2005 @ 12:40 am

    I was just reading the bio for Hugh Panaro who is playing Lestat and this guy is no slouch. I found this new link a few minutes ago.

    Did you see it Neil? Do tell!

  4. Literatus (unregistered) on December 31st, 2005 @ 12:19 pm

    Jason, I am looking forward to learning what u think of Lestat the Musical. As a fan of Anne Rice’s novels, I’m flying to SF for 3 days in midJanuary in part because I wanted to see the show there (but also to revisit my favorite city and go on a whale watch cruise)… so please find _something_ encouraging to say, even if Lestat & his cohorts “really do suck” (pun intended)!

  5. Scary (unregistered) on January 8th, 2006 @ 12:25 am

    Just saw the musical Lestat. From the first 10 seconds we knew we were in for a stinker. Over blow, over acted and over sung. The music was awful, repetitive and boring. Lyrics inane and full of empty clich

  6. lcgiii (unregistered) on January 15th, 2006 @ 8:30 pm

    My wife and I just saw the first half of Lestat –and decided to leave at intermission so as not to disrupt the “musical” with our laughter. In 20 years of viewing movies and theater, this is only the second time I’ve ever walked out of a production midway through it.

    Unfortunately, we did not check reviews prior to buying tickets. Given the material (Anne Rice) and the musician (Elton John), we presumed it would be at least enjoyable or interesting….neither of which can be said to be true. The “musical” failed in every possible way. The dialog was slow, poorly written and stilted, the excruciating equivalent of being forced to listen to a dramatic reading of Hallmark cards. When we gave up on the dialog (in the first 5 minutes), we shifted our attention to the music, both hoping for a strong musical score consistent with Elton John’s work in Lion King, where the songs matched the context and feel of the story. What we least expected and were shocked to hear (resulting in the only dramatic moment we experienced throughout) was virtually a repeat of the Lion King’s music, filled with a strange jumble of lyrics, and, while appropriate for an audience of children, hardly appropriate to be sung by the undead!

    The stage “production” consisted of a heavy reliance on projected images and rudimentary lighting techniques, which one would only find entertaining if on hallucinogens, and even then, would likely find them more laughable than scary. Perhaps this was indicative of a low budget, which would also explain why some of the costumes appeared to be made from Motel 6 bedspreads and window dressings.

    To their credit, the actors tried to make something of this, yet they too appeared bored with the script and the songs, and clearly knew the material was very weak. Even with their talent, only a miracle can turn a sow’s ear into a silk purse.

    In sum, I am appalled that the production company is charging the amount of the money they are for the tickets. This is irresponsible and bordering on fraud. If anything, this is an effort by Warner Brothers production to get people to stay away from the live theater and back into movie theaters.

    This will never make it to Broadway, nor should it. Save your money – and don’t give life to what should be dead. Though Lestat may bemoan his interminable existence, we can put his musical out of its misery.

  7. Jason ashken (unregistered) on January 15th, 2006 @ 11:01 pm

    The word on Lestat is that despite bad reviews in San Francisco the show’s scenery, projections and lighting are said to be a feast for the eyes and, the staging when existent a driving force. The cast is excellent and the creative staff is plugging away at cuts and fixes. It’s been mentioned that the show is getting some necessary rewrites to pare back extraneous exposition conveyed within the dialogue and lyrics.
    It is also heavily rumored that another problem with the production is the costumes. Un-proportionate, unflattering, and nonfunctional were a few of the adjectives used to describe them. Evidently the costume designer, Susan Hilferty (of Wicked fame) has created costumes for the ensemble much like Maria Von Trapp did for the children in the Sound Of Music. For a predominantly period musical, little attention has been paid to any tailoring or fit and the cast is said to have problems performing even the simplest of blocking. Ms. Hilferty, it is rumored, has a well-known “attitude” towards not accommodating body types and\or facilitating physicality with her costuming. She’s known for sandbagging serious choreographers and their choreography in the past.

  8. Terri Fiorne (unregistered) on January 18th, 2006 @ 6:04 pm

    I saw Lestat in San Francisco and left the theater wondering if it was at all fixable in time for its’ Broadway opening. Where the cast and their voices are excellent, no one has the eroticism that pervades Anne Rice’s characters in her books.
    The writing, by Linda Woolverton, gets bogged down with attempts to keep the vampire history linear, logical and understandable to anyone in the audience who doesn’t know the difference between Ms. Rice’s vampires and Bram Stoker’s. The dialogue often has to report on or define the meaning of a previous effect or action so nothing is left for the audience to misinterpret.
    Sir Elton John’s music is mostly unmemorable with a few exceptions, but its Bernie Taupin’s lyrics and the orchestrations that make the songs even minimally interesting.
    The costume designer, Susan Hilferty, doesn’t seem to have any color palette or stylistic theme that fits with Derek McLane’s surrealistic yet period design of the rest of the production.
    It looks as if Ms. Hilferty chose only one fabric per scene to clothe everyone in. In one scene when Lestat first meets the Paris vampires, they are costumed as though they are a long lost team of Cirque de Soliel acrobats. As actors in a derelict Paris theater, the ensemble is clothed entirely in poorly fitting gold lame. As if they had that much gold lame in Paris during the late 18th century!
    In another scene, the actors look as if they are wearing curtain fabric and it’s been left entirely to the inventive yet economic staging of Matt West to provide the actors with any character or appeal as New Orleans denizens.
    One wonders how such famous and high powered creative forces gathered under the roof of Warner Brothers Theatrical Productions could falter so erringly.

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