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A CurtainUp Review
Dance of the Vampires
By Elyse Sommer
Maybe the ghost of Sigmund Freud helped the Viennese musical version of Roman Polanski's 1967 flick The Fearless Vampire Killers version find the right balance between camp and horror. That show has been a hit for five years. The same longevity is unlikely for the vampires now frenziedly dancing to the thum-thump-thump rock beat and inane lyrics of Jim Steinman's score at the Minskoff. It's campy but not good camp. The only horror is that so much money and talent has been thrown at this project.
It would be easy to blame my reaction to Dance of the Vampires on a week of seeing one new show after another -- but I've had non-stop show going weeks before without losing my ability to separate the dross from the gold. This is simply a bad show that doesn't seem to know what it wants to be, probably because the creative team has allowed too many cooks to stir this broth into a mishmash without a clear focus.
DOTV's very respectable advance sales are no doubt due to chief Vampire, Michael Crawford. Sad to say, the Phantom of the Opera star as Count von Krolock (rhyme that with schlock) is not so much a shadow of his glamorous former self, as a puffed up cartoon. His European accent is flinge inducing, the vamipirish mullet hairdo and masklike cosmetics make him barely recognizable. His voice isn't in top form either.
In a show that starts with the ushers and ticket takers wearing Vampire capes and a major production number called "Garlic "in an ugly garlicky gingerbread house setting (one of many overly busy scenic disasters by the usually masterful David Gallo), you can't put all the burden on Crawford's padded shoulders. The supporting cast, even the excellent Rene Aubjonois, as his nemesis Professor Abronsius, can't keep things from going from bad to worse as fast as a bat out of hell. John Carrafa's choreography makes you wonder if this can indeed be the same Carrafa responsible for the witty dances of Urinetown and Into the Woods. Ann Hould-Ward's costumes are in tune with the overall ugliness.
I could go on about what's wrong with this anemic but loud retread of the story which can be summed up as over-aged vampire killer meets young virgin whom boy loves and sets out to rescue. But why beat a dead horse or, to be more precise, a dead bat?
If you love schlock and think I'm being too harsh, get a ticket soon. These bats are unlikely tol be dancing at the Minskoff for very long.
Theater Books Make Great Gifts
At This Theater
Ridiculous!The Theatrical Life & Times of Charles Ludlam
The New York Times Book of Broadway: On the Aisle for the Unforgettable Plays of the Last Century
6, 500 Comparative Phrases including 800 Shakespearean Metaphors by CurtainUp's editor.
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