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 choreographer Jonathan Butterell was added to the Broadway creative team "to give his perspective on the staging."
Elton John explained that he had written two new songs for the Broadway production: "Right Before My Eyes" and "My Beautiful Boy," for Lestat's mother, Carolee Carmello. He also noted that "The storyline has certainly changed in Lestat." An additional change is that "Lestat typing his memoirs into a laptop, with super titles being shown to the audience, has been abandoned since San Francisco." The CurtainUp reviewer noted: "Press reports from out-of-town about songs, characters, scenes and performers being dropped and/or replaced indicated that there was plenty of work to do on this particular incarnation."
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. "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. 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 leaves his mother Gabrielle to go to Paris to live with his friend Nicolas ("My Beautiful Boy"). He finds Nicolas working as an actor in a small theater, happy with his life ("In Paris"). They go to Nicolas' flat and it becomes clear they're in love with each other ("The Bugs and the Bears"). A vampire called Magnus attacks Lestat and turns him into a vampire ("The Thirst"). He struggles with this, and hides from his mother when she comes looking for him ("Right Before My Eyes"). Eventually he finds her and makes her a vampire to save her life, as she is sick ("Make Me As You Are"). They meet a vampire named Armand, who leads a group of satanist vampires. He denounces them as blasphemers, but Lestat reveals to his followers that they do not actually serve the Devil ("The Dark Laws / To Live Like This"). They decide to become a troupe of actors. Nicolas is discovered among them, and Lestat eventually transforms him too. The troupe's first play tells the story of Armand and Marius, his maker ("Morality Play"). Nicolas is in a catatonic state after his transformation, and Lestat decides to find Marius to heal him. Ten years pass. Gabrielle decides to leave Lestat and see the world ("Crimson Kiss"). Nicolas speaks for the first time, asking to be released. Lestat lights a fire to kill him, and scatters the ashes ("Right Before My Eyes" (reprise)) as Marius appears.
- Act II
Marius claims that he could not have saved Nicolas. He encourages Lestat to go to America. Once there, he meets and falls for a young self-destructive Creole, Louis ("Welcome to The New World"). Louis agrees to let Lestat make him a vampire. They live together for a time, but Louis becomes dissatisfied with the vampiric life ("Embrace It"). Lestat transforms Claudia, an orphan girl, which horrifies Louis, who nevertheless agrees to help raise her. Time passes. Claudia has a greater craving for blood, having been transformed at a young age ("I Want More"). She mourns the fact that she will stay a child forever ("I'll Never Have That Chance"). Lestat apologizes, and she tries to kill him. Louis burns down the house. Later, on a ship, Lestat is wounded and thinks of what his life has become ("Sail Me Away"). He returns to Armand and the theater, where he discovers Louis and Claudia as members of the troupe. Armand and the others kill Claudia for trying to kill Lestat despite his protests ("To Kill Your Kind"). Louis leaves ("Embrace It" (reprise)). Armand mocks Lestat when he asks why he killed Claudia ("After All This Time"). They argue about what Marius said, and Lestat is thrown from the roof, breaking his legs. He prepares to die in the coming sunlight ("Sail Me Away" (reprise)), but Marius and Gabrielle arrive and convince him to save himself ("Crimson Kiss" (reprise)). The light goes off. Lestat appears, dressed in 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.
Reviews of the Broadway production were uniformly negative. The New York Post's verdict was "Bloody Awful", and the Newark Star-Ledger opined that it was "just deadly." Lamenting the show's "soporific" nature, Ben Brantley of The New York Times wrote: "Joining the ranks of Ambien, Lunesta, Sonata and other prescription lullaby drugs is "Lestat," the musical sleeping pill...Dare to look upon "Lestat" and keep your eyelids from growing heavier and heavier and heavier." Brantley also characterized the play's songs as "pulpy and mostly interchangeable". Washington Post critic Peter Marks mused that "Lestat's contribution to art and equality is demonstrating that a gay vampire with a two-octave range can be just as dull as a straight one."
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
Original Broadway production
|2006||Tony Award||Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical||Carolee Carmello||Nominated|
|Best Costume Design of a Musical||Susan Hilferty||Nominated|
|Drama Desk Award||Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical||Carolee Carmello||Nominated|
|Outer Critics Circle Award||Outstanding Actor in a Musical||Hugh Panaro||Nominated|
- 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
- " 'Lestat' Listing" Internet Broadway Database
- Saltzman, Simon. "Review. 'Lestat' " curtainup.com, April 20, 2006
- Jones, Kenneth. "Ready for Broadway's Jugular, 'Lestat' Swoops In; Elton John Discusses Recent Revisions" playbill.com, March 24, 2006
- Jones, Kenneth. " 'Lestat' Takes a Bite Out of Broadway, Opening April 25" playbill.com, April 25, 2006
- [Lestat at the Internet Broadway Database]
- "No Plans for Release of 'Lestat' Original Cast Recording" broadwayworld.com, 2006