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Elton John's
Lestat leaves Broadway a month after opening

Elton John's
Lestat leaves Broadway a month after opening

Broadway's vampire curse has now struck Sir Elton John and Anne Rice. The elaborate and often homoerotic musical Lestat, based on Rice's novels, including Interview With the Vampire, will close on May 28, just a month after it officially opened at the Palace Theatre, Playbill.com reported Tuesday.

With music by John, lyrics by his longtime collaborator, Bernie Taupin, and a libretto by Linda Woolverton (Beauty and the Beast), the show had a tryout in San Francisco in late 2005 and early 2006. That initial U.S. production included most of the Broadway cast, including Hugh Panaro in the flamboyant title role.

A scheduled early April Broadway opening was pushed back to April 25 after the show took a critical drubbing on the West Coast. A new choreographer, Jonathan Butterell (The Light in the Piazza, Fiddler on the Roof) was hired after the San Francisco run.

When it closes, Lestat will have racked up just 33 preview performances (before opening night) and 39 regular performances. The first preview performance of the show was March 25--John's 59th birthday.

Playbill.com reported that the "musical about the soul-searching vampire Lestat opened to some of the most blistering reviews of the season. It collected only two Tony award nominations, for actress Carolee Carmello and costume designer Susan Hilferty."

A typical review, by the Associated Press, began, "To bite or not to bite? What's a conflicted vampire with severe identity issues to do? That seems to be the question haunting the troubled title character in Lestat, the morose new musical that opened Tuesday at Broadway's Palace Theatre."

Lestat is the third vampire Broadway musical flop of the decade. Dance of the Vampires, constructed around the over-the-top songs of Meat Loaf collaborator Jim Steinman, flopped quickly in 2002. Two years later, Broadway horror musical stalwart Frank Wildhorn (Jekyll & Hyde) brought his Bram Stoker adaptation, Dracula, to the Great White Way, to equally disastrous results.

John is now two for three on Broadway, having had hits with previous shows The Lion King and Aida. Lestat was his first Broadway show to include prominent gay themes, but it's not his last: His next stage show, the London smash Billy Elliot, based on the gay-inclusive movie of the same title, is expected in New York during the next season, but no dates have yet been announced.

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