The Vampires Bite Again
Frankfurter Neue Presse
Roman Polanski's Musical
Dance Of The Vampires Premiered In Stuttgart.
By Oliver Schmale
They have climbed out of their
coffins once again. And in Stuttgart the vampires are biting with
gusto, as the musical Dance Of The Vampires replaces the lyrical
drama "Miss Saigon." On Friday, the curtain rose for the
premier of this horror show which will offer its future audiences a
spectacle of technology, dance and lighting effects six times a
week. Renowned director Roman Polanski staged the piece, which had
previously played to sold-out audiences in Vienna. The vampires are
also expected to guide Stella, the troubled musical production
company, back into calmer waters.
According to Peter Schwenkow, whose
Deutsche Entertainment AG (DEAG) recently acquired a significant
share in Share, and who also owns Frankfurt's Jahrhunderthalle
[Century Hall], "musicals are not as antiquated as their
reputation." But they're not immortal, either.
Kim's modest little hut in
"Miss Saigon" was, in fact, expected to attract
Stuttgart's theater-goers for an entire decade. But it failed to do
so. Consequently, Dance Of The Vampires will play for a
significantly shorter run. This is a shame, as this production, with
its imposing castle inhabited by vampire Count von Krolock (Kevin
Tarte), certainly has the potential to become a major audience
attraction. In this production, a few changes were made to the
Vienna version of the musical.
The story of Professor Abronsius
(Werner Bauer), introduced to audiences worldwide in Polanski's 1967
film version, who is accompanied by his assistant Alfred (Aris Sas)
on a scientific trip to Transylvania, the land of the vampires, has
a great deal of wit and charm. When these two characters attempt to
stop one of the undead with a cross, he tells them "that cross
won't help you, because I am a vampire Jew." Apparently, the
only thing that works against vampires is garlic.
But the antics of the vampires also
seem to attract humans. In a key scene, Sarah, the daughter of a
villager, descends the 33 steps of a spiral staircase so that she
can attain immortality at the vampire's midnight ball.
Polanski is a perfectionist. During
several weeks of rehearsals in Stuttgart, it became evident that he
expects a great deal from his performers. "I love the theater
and I love music," said the 66 year old director, who played
the role of the professor's assistant Alfred in his 1967 movie.
Composer Jim Steinman delivered
catchy and lasting melodies, using tunes with which we are already
familiar. Bonnie Tyler's hit song, Total Eclipse, which was written
by Steinman, is easy to recognize in some of the songs. Strains of
rock music alternate with borrowings from the world of classical
music. The set creates the perfect atmosphere of splendor so
commonly found in musicals. The audience at the premier applauded
wildly at the end of each scene.
(Pictures Courtesy Of Stella, AG)