Elton John, Bernie Taupin sink teeth into new project

— No capes, no crosses and definitely no tap-dancing vampires.

Longtime musical collaborators Elton John and Bernie Taupin are planning to bring "The Vampire Lestat" to Broadway, and they promise a production free of gothic excess.

"It will be dark, sexy and scary, but that doesn't mean it has to be cliche," Taupin said Tuesday at a news conference to announce the show.

The project, based on the character from Anne Rice's novels, is the first production from Warner Bros. Theatre Ventures and is scheduled to hit the stage in 2005. John already has two productions on Broadway, the Disney hits "Aida" and "The Lion King." This is Taupin's first effort.

"Bernie and I have been huge fans of Anne Rice's books for a long, long time," John said, adding that the New Orleans-based author supported the project and had heard and approved of the music that has been composed so far.

John said he expected all the content -- music, lyrics, and book -- to be completed by the end of September, and hoped to have a read-through in November.

The collaborators said the musical would be based on three Rice novels -- "Interview With the Vampire," "The Vampire Lestat" and "Queen of the Damned" -- with emphasis on the first two. (A movie version of "Queen of the Damned" came out last year, starring late singer Aaliyah as an ancient vampire. Neil Jordan's 1994 film version of "Interview With the Vampire" starred Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise.)

John said the music he was composing was for an orchestra and would have no electronic components or other modern sounds, since the books' settings largely were from a couple of hundred years ago.

When asked who could play Lestat, John said whoever it was would have to have charisma -- but most importantly, would have to be able to sing. "My main concern is finding people who can sing the songs properly," he said.

Broadway's last outing with vampires was the musical "Dance of the Vampires," based on the Roman Polanski movie, "The Fearless Vampire Killers." The production starring Michael Crawford closed in January after only 56 performances and a loss estimated at more than $12 million.


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