Dance Of The Vampires

Opera star to 'Dance'?
The New York Post
By Michael Riedel

July 20, 2001 -- Michael Crawford may be headed back to Broadway next year as
the star of the upcoming musical "Dance of the Vampires."

Crawford - who has not appeared on the New York stage since he triumphed in "The Phantom of the Opera" in 1988 - is in "serious discussions" to play an aristocratic vampire who falls in love with a beautiful teenage girl in the $10 million musical, theater sources in London told The Post this week.

Crawford had several meetings with the producers and creative team of "Dance of the Vampires" at the Dorchester Hotel in London earlier this month. He sang songs from the show, discussed the development of his character with director John Caird and outlined the terms of a deal that would make him one of the highest paid stars on Broadway, the sources said.

"Vampire" composer Jim Steinman, in an interview with The Post this week, confirmed the meetings with Crawford, but said there was no deal yet.

"We would love to have Michael Crawford in the show," he said. "He is a towering talent and probably the biggest box-office star in the theater. But nothing has been signed." The producers have also put out feelers to David Bowie, John Travolta, Richard Gere and Placido Domingo.

But Crawford is said to be their first choice. His return to the Broadway stage would be one of the major events of the new theater season. Crawford became an international star playing The Phantom first in London, then New York, where he won a Tony Award. But he did not follow up his success in "Phantom" with a role in another musical, opting instead for a lucrative recording and concert career. In 1994, he moved to Las Vegas to star in "EFX," a multimillion-dollar revue at the MGM Grand. He signed a two-year contract reportedly worth $20 million a year. But, in 1996, he suffered a hip injury and was forced to leave the show prematurely. Crawford has kept a low profile since then. He was going to star in "The Witches of Eastwick" in London but wanted so much money that producer Cameron Mackintosh hired another actor instead.

Speaking of "Dance of the Vampires," Steinman wants the theater world to know that he is not - repeat, not - producing the show. Earlier this week, I reported that Steinman had removed one set of producers from the show and installed his longtime manager, David Sonenberg, as the lead producer.

But Steinman insists that Sonenberg is in no way his lackey. "My most extreme fights are with David," he said. "He isn't a 'yes' man. He doesn't even approach being a 'considerate' man. Our relationship is a lot less like Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick in 'The Producers' than it is Bette Davis and Joan Crawford in 'Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?' "

Steinman added: "I will fight to the death for something I believe in, but I am in no way the behind-the-scenes producer. I damn well wish I was, because I can't tell you how many things are the opposite of what I want, but I am part of a team." Steinman also said there was no bad blood between him and
the two producers who left the show - Elizabeth Williams and Anita Waxman. "I enjoyed working with them - they're both terrific ladies," he said. "They just couldn't work out a business arrangement with David. But I had nothing to do with that." Sonenberg is co-producing "Dance of the Vampires" with Andrew Braunsberg, who presented the show in Vienna.