'Dance of the Vampires,' a Broadway Failure, Is Closing

In one of the costliest failures in Broadway history, the producers of "Dance of the Vampires," a $12 million camp musical at the Minskoff Theater, will close the show on Jan. 25, having lost their entire investment.

The musical, with music and lyrics by Jim Steinman and Michael Kunze and a book by Mr. Steinman, Mr. Kunze, and David Ives, opened on Dec. 9 to lukewarm reviews and mediocre daily sales. The producers had hoped to fight the show's poor critical reception with new television advertising, but the last two weeks proved particularly difficult, as the weekly box office take dipped below $500,000. (The show's weekly running costs are about $600,000.)

At $12 million, "Vampires" ranks among the most expensive losers in Broadway history, taking its place alongside famous flops like "Capeman" and "Carrie." The producers had no comment on the closing yesterday, but a spokesman for the show said there were no plans for a cast album or a national tour, which might mitigate some of the losses.

Loosely based on Roman Polanski's 1967 horror movie spoof, "The Fearless Vampire Killers," and starring the onetime "Phantom of the Opera" star Michael Crawford, "Dance of the Vampires" tells the comic story of a lusty bloodsucker (Mr. Crawford) who chases a vestal virgin across Lower Belabartokovich.

The show came to New York after successful runs in Austria and Germany (it is still playing in Stuttgart), where Mr. Steinman, known for writing pop hits for the singer Meat Loaf, is considered a serious composer.

For its Broadway incarnation, the American producers — a largely new group — assembled a fresh and talented, if somewhat untested, creative team, including the director John Rando and the choreographer John Carrafa, who both became famous for their work on "Urinetown," an Off Broadway hit that made the leap to Broadway last year.

The producers were confident enough to announce early last year that "Dance of the Vampires" would open on Broadway "cold," or without the customary out-of-town run used to fine-tune productions. The show also sold well before opening, largely on the strength of Mr. Crawford's name.

But "Vampires" began to show signs of trouble in the middle of the fall. Laden with a variety of expensive stage tricks, it was forced to cancel its first two previews in October because of technical problems.

Several special effects designed by David Gallo were also scrapped a few weeks before opening. Then, just after previews began, Mr. Rando was forced to leave the production for two weeks because of a family emergency, which delayed the opening by two and a half weeks.

There were also creative differences. Shortly after the show's opening, Mr. Steinman himself complained to the news media, saying he felt the show had become too jokey and broad compared with its German production, which was more arch and scary. His dissatisfaction was made obvious when he did not attend the musical's opening.

"Dance of the Vampires" became a favorite target of critics, who characterized it as a messy failure, an image that television advertising apparently could not reverse in the minds of ticket buyers. Its gross for the week ending on Sunday, $459,784, was its lowest, and that, finally, was the kiss of death for the show.

"Dance of the Vampires" will close having played more previews (61) than performances (56).

Dance of the vampires

New York Times

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