The Vampire's Soul Is Kept Hidden (In The Studio Vaults)
Sep 30, 2009
When you think of Elton John and Broadway chances are you think of "The Lion King," "Aida," or his current success (as well as 10 time Tony winner) "Billy Elliot." Chances are you won't think of "Lestat," his third Broadway production before 'Billy' that failed to catch on. To this day I'm not exactly sure why this was. Some say it was the show received too much tampering with in San Fransico before it hit New York. Some say the material it was based off of was not attractive to Broadway audiences (the show was based off Ann Rice's vampire novels, books I'm sure most Broadway regulars haven't read). Whatever the reason "Lestat" was a financial bomb and the show died. An Original Cast Recording was shelved and we still don't know if we'll ever see it released. It's this aspect of the failed show I fear we're missing out the most. Even if the show was not a hit Elton John sells CD's, so the idea that this would sell because no one heard of the show seems like a weak arguement.
The proffesional recordings of the songs are still mostly hidden but someone had the courage to record the show before it closed, so now we have a chance to hear the music at least and figure out if the music was any good. Turns out the music is a mixed bag. I'd say half the music is good and half is bad. The good music is the stuff that is dark and melodramatic. These songs (which are being performed by the lead protagonist I presume) are intellent tunes. Shockingly dark and deep for Broadway. Whenever protagonist Lestat questions his morality in song it can have a chilling effect. Whenever it's a happy showtune where everyone is singing of happy things the music is less powerful and interesting. Maybe the tampering we heard about involved the producers making a downer of a show into something more family friendly?
It's hard to say. My favorite song is easily "Right Before My Eyes," a song about Lestat's temptation to drink the blood of a friend. Or at least, this is what I came away with. Truth be told the lyrics are vague enough that I wondered whether or not this was a ballad geared towards a gay lover. Another high point is "The Crimson Kiss," which is a love duet between Lestat and a woman. Actually, most of these ballads sound like radio hits that were put into the production. They almost don't sound Broadway at all. The sound quality of these recordings is spotty sometimes because they were recorded live, but they are servicable. You just might have to deal with the occasional cough and clapping. Hopefully the clean recordings will officially be released some day, but for now these bootlegs work fine. And from listening to this I'm not sure why the show failed: It honestly sounds interesting.
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