Opening Night Playbill cover
|Basis||The Vampire Chronicles
by Anne Rice
|Premiere||December 17, 2005 – Curran Theatre, San Francisco|
|Productions||2005 San Francisco
Lestat is a Broadway musical inspired by Anne Rice's The Vampire Chronicles. The score is by Elton John and Bernie Taupin, with the book by Linda Woolverton. The musical had a brief run on Broadway in 2006.
Lestat premiered at the Curran Theatre, San Francisco, California on December 17, 2005 and closed on January 29, 2006. The musical opened on Broadway at the Palace Theater on March 25, 2006 and closed on May 28, 2006, after 33 previews and 39 performances. The musical was directed by Robert Jess Roth with musical staging by Matt West. Scenic design was by Derek McLane, costume design by Susan Hilferty, lighting design by Kenneth Posner, sound design by Jonathan Deans, visual concept design by Dave McKean, and hair design by Tom Watson. The title role of Lestat was played by Hugh Panaro, and the cast starred Carolee Carmello as Gabrielle, Drew Sarich as Armand, Jim Stanek as Louis, Roderick Hill as Nicolas, Michael Genet as Marius, and Allison Fischer as Claudia.
The pre-Broadway version of Lestat was very different from the Broadway version. Even though it was the highest-earning pre-Broadway play in San Francisco history (beating out Wicked and Cats), the company had drastically revised the play. The San Francisco version had far more elaborate stage effects and production values and included projected images illustrating the main character, Lestat's, story.
The Broadway version of Lestat was more interpretive and used fewer projections; it also cut quite a few plot elements. The song "Right Before My Eyes" was inserted. "In Paris", a duet sung by Nicolas and Lestat, was replaced by a number called "In Paris Sequence," which expanded the original "In Paris" lyrics to include Lestat's first arrival in Paris and his first sight of Nicolas's work at the theater. Gabrielle's solo "Nothing Here" was changed to "Beautiful Boy." The play-within-a-play at the Vampire theater was changed from the number "Origin of the Species"—which explained the legend of King Enkil and Queen Akasha—to "Morality Play," which treated the relationship between Armand and Marius. The revision completely scrapped any references to The Queen of the Damned; later in previews, Queen Akasha and King Enkil were cut from the show completely.
This synopsis reflects the final, New York version.
- Act I
Lestat kills a pack of wolves although his father has forbidden him to. Lestat's parents argue and to defend his mother, he strikes his father. Gabrielle (Lestat's mother) convinces Lestat to go to Paris to live with his friend Nicolas. Lestat doesn't want to abandon her, but he ends up going. She thinks of how lonely her life will be without him, although she is happy he is free ("My Beautiful Boy").
Lestat finds Nicolas working as an actor in a small theater, happy with his life ("In Paris"). Nicolas is a violinist and tells Lestat he has been disowned after leaving school to study music. They go to Nicolas' flat and it becomes clear they're in love with each other ("The Bugs and the Bears"). An offstage voice keeps calling "wolfkiller". Intrigued because Nicolas can't hear it, Lestat follows the voice and is attacked by a vampire named Magnus. Magnus makes Lestat a vampire and informs Lestat that nothing can end his life except fire or the sun. He then lights a fire and makes Lestat promise to scatter his ashes when he's dead. Magnus dies, leaving Lestat very confused about his new nature ("The Thirst"). Unable to control himself, Lestat takes his first victim and yells at God for not stopping him.
In Nicolas's room, Gabrielle, obviously sick, tells Nicolas that he should not worry about Lestat; she is certain he will return. After giving Nicolas the name of her hotel and asking him to take care of Lestat, she leaves. On the street she passes by Lestat, who hides from her. Lestat looks through Nicolas's window, struggling against his desire to make him a vampire ("Right Before My Eyes").
Lestat visits his mother and confesses that he is a vampire. He makes his mother a vampire to save her life ("Make Me As You Are"). The Dark Gift allows Gabrielle to be free from the customs and morals of her time and finally be herself. Gabrielle and Lestat go inside a church. A man dressed as a monk, with his face hidden, follows them and introduces himself as the vampire Armand. He insists that Lestat and Gabrielle must come with him. They follow him to a graveyard, home to a group of satanist vampires that Armand leads. Armand announces that Lestat and Gabrielle are blasphemous and should be destroyed. Lestat reveals that Armand has deceived his followers and that they don't really serve The Devil ("The Dark Laws / To Live Like This"). Lestat and Gabrielle encourage the coven to live among mortals, and they create a troupe of actors that performs vampiric plays.
As Lestat and Gabrielle watch the former satanists go, they hear Armand say, "I like your violinist." They turn to see that Armand has Nicolas as a hostage. Armand plays with Lestat, first by pretending he's going to kill Nicolas, then asking why Lestat didn't turn him into a vampire. Laughing, he throws Nicolas to Lestat and leaves. Nicolas tells Lestat that he wants them to be together forever. Lestat finally gives in and transforms him. The new vampire simply sits on the floor in a catatonic state. As Lestat desperately calls his name, trying to get a reaction, the scene shifts to the first performance of Armand's ex-followers as actors.
Their play is an interpretive dance version of "The Vampire Armand" and tells the story of Armand and Marius ("Morality Play"). Lestat and Gabrielle compliment the play. The still-catatonic Nicolas will not move, except to play the violin. Armand enters the theater's backstage and Lestat asks why Nicolas is like that. Armand says the Dark Gift is unpredictable. Lestat asks if Marius is real, and if his ancient blood could heal Nicki. Armand reveals Marius was his maker, but he believes Marius is dead. Lestat decides to look for him to heal Nicolas. Lestat and Gabrielle take Nicolas through Europe searching for Marius.
Ten years pass. Armand tries to seduce Lestat, who almost surrenders but ends up beating Armand and ordering him to disappear from his life. Armand returns to Paris. Gabrielle enters, talking of a wonderful wild place she had been exploring. Lestat angrily asks why had she taken so long to return. Gabrielle talks of the wonders of the world and everything she wants to do. Although she will miss Lestat, she has no interest in trying to cure Nicolas ("Crimson Kiss"). Gabrielle and Lestat kiss, and she leaves. Lestat asks Nicolas to play the violin. Instead of playing, Nicki speaks for the first time since he was transformed: "Release me." Desperate, Lestat agrees to light a fire. He scatters Nicki's ashes, crying ("Right Before My Eyes" (reprise)). A sudden light makes him look up. A figure has appeared on the sky and is coming down to talk to Lestat. Lestat yells "MARIUS, COME!"
- Act II
Marius claims that he could not have saved Nicolas; Nicolas made his own choice. Angry and sad, Lestat asks what the meaning of their lives is. Marius says he cannot teach what a lifetime can and that Lestat should go to America, be the first vampire there, and start a new life. Lestat begs Marius not to leave, for he cannot stand the loneliness. The ancient vampire replies, "then you'll make others," and instructs Lestat to choose his fledglings carefully. He feels he made a mistake transforming Armand. He says, "Armand is empty. He cannot feel or love."
Lestat follows Marius's advice and goes to the New World, where he meets and falls for a young self-destructive Creole, Louis ("Welcome to The New World"). Lestat offers him The Dark Gift. Louis agrees, and Lestat makes him a vampire. Time passes, and Louis and Lestat live in a beautiful town house. Lestat arrives, telling a funny story from the opera, but Louis interrupts with a lot of moral questions. Lestat, tired of this discussion, tries once again to make his partner embrace the vampiric nature ("Embrace It"). Louis says he's leaving. Lestat takes a walk and finds a sick little orphan girl who asks him for help. He makes her a vampire and takes her home. Louis is horrified, but agrees to stay and raise Claudia with him.
Time passes. In Claudia's bedroom, she is beautifully dressed and surrounded by dolls, for which she doesn't seem to care. Transformed at such a young age, she doesn't understand "human nature" and her craving for blood is bigger than those of the other vampires ("I Want More"). Claudia realizes that she'll never grow to be a woman and begins to ask questions. At a ball, after being treated as a child by younger people, Claudia mourns the adult life she'll never have ("I'll Never Have That Chance"). Lestat overhears and leaves guiltily. Later he asks where Louis is, and Claudia says she has asked Louis to give them some time alone. Awkwardly, he starts to apologize for not understanding her grief, but she interrupts and says she's sorry for giving him so much trouble. She says she has a present for him, and shows the unconscious body of a woman. Lestat bites the woman and falls on the floor, weak. Claudia has poisoned him, not knowing it is impossible to kill a vampire this way. Furious, she grabs a knife and starts cutting Lestat. Afraid of what Lestat might do to Claudia, Louis tells her there's only one way he can die, and Louis sets the house on fire. He and Claudia flee as Lestat tries to escape the flames.
Later, Lestat is on a ship. He is wounded and thinks of what his life has become ("Sail Me Away"). Once in Europe, Lestat goes to the Theater of the Vampires. He asks Armand for some of his blood to help him heal. Armand agrees but insists that first they watch the final scene of the play that the vampires are performing. Lestat is shocked to see Louis and Claudia on the stage. Armand says they had been there for over a year and refused to talk of their maker. After the play, Armand grabs Claudia and asks Lestat if that was the one who tried to kill him. Lestat tries to justify her act, but Armand and the others kill her ("To Kill Your Kind").
When night falls, Louis mourns Claudia and leaves Lestat ("Embrace It" (reprise)). Lestat asks Armand why he killed Claudia. Armand gives him an ironic smile, talks of the sweetness of vengeance, and mockingly kisses him ("After All This Time"). Armand turns to leave, but Lestat confesses that he found Marius, and repeats all that Marius said about Armand. Furious, Armand accuses Lestat of being a liar, says Marius loved him and throws Lestat from the roof. Lestat's legs are broken. The dawn approaches, and he can't stand. Once again, he talks to God, asking what He wants from him, and saying that he accepts what he is, that he's evil and that he's sorry. Lestat prepares to be burned by the sun ("Sail Me Away" (reprise)), but Marius arrives with Gabrielle, and they insist that he can stand. With a lot of effort and pain, he does ("Crimson Kiss" (reprise)). Marius allows Lestat to drink from his wrist. The light goes off. Lestat appears, dressed modern clothes, and says "I am the Vampire Lestat, and I will live forever."
Broadway opening cast
- Lestat (tenor) – The protagonist, a young Frenchman whose life we follow as he attempts to make his way in the world after unwillingly becoming a vampire. Lively and confident, though also sometimes selfish, but with the best of intentions.
- Gabrielle (mezzo-soprano) – Lestat's mother, who urges him to leave home and make a life in Paris. She later becomes his first fledgling and companion. Strong and free-spirited.
- Nicolas (baritone) – An actor and violinist in Paris who is Lestat's dear friend (and love-interest). He is pure and good-natured.
- Armand (tenor) – The leader of the underground coven in Paris later to become the Theater of the Vampires, who desires revenge against Lestat for breaking up his coven. Vindictive and manipulative.
- Louis (tenor/baritone) – A depressed plantation owner in New Orleans who becomes Lestat's somewhat unwilling companion in the New World. As a vampire, he is tormented by his conscience. Often quiet and melancholy.
- Claudia (soprano) – An orphan child made into a vampire by Lestat, in order to keep Louis from leaving him. She harbors anger towards Lestat for robbing her of her mortal future. Begins as a demanding young girl, but over time develops a grown woman's mind.
- Marius – "The Ancient One", the oldest of the vampires. Wise but eccentric.
- Magnus – Lestat's maker, who goes into the fire shortly after choosing his heir.
- Laurent – A vampire of the Theater.
Ensemble: Vampires of Armand's coven/the Theater of the Vampires, Parisians, people of New Orleans.
The Original Broadway Cast Recording was recorded by Mercury Records on May 22, 2006 and was produced by Guy Babylon and Matt Still. After the show's closing however, Elton John's management stated "there are no plans to release the recording at the present."
Awards and nominations
2006 Tony Awards
- Best Featured Actress in a Musical – Carolee Carmello (nominee)
- Best Costume Design of a Musical – Susan Hilferty (nominee)
2006 Drama Desk Awards
- Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical – Carolee Carmello (nominee)
- Jones, Kenneth and Hernandez, Ernio. "Elton John Musical Lestat Will Take a Bite Out of San Francisco in Late 2005" playbill.com, March 31, 2005
- Simonson, Robert. "Elton John and Bernie Taipan's 'Lestat' To Close on Broadway May 2 8" playbill.com, May 23, 2006
- " 'Lestst' Listing" Internet Broadway Database
- "No Plans for Release of 'Lestat' Original Cast Recording" broadwayworld.com, 2006
- Lestat on Broadway, Official website. (URL accessed April 12, 2006)
- Lestat at the Internet Broadway Database
- Playbill Vault listing
- Announcement on Rice's site
- BBC: "Elton sets date for vampire show"