by A.Brooks, photos by John Marcus
Theatre is perfect when you desire a change of reality and it is just as well to journey to a venue of make believe to fulfill that quest. One particular occasion led me to an evening with the infamous Lestat, a character from "The Vampire Chronicles," a novel by best-selling author, Anne Rice.
Anticipating my journey into the fantasy world of the supernatural, dark world of the "Prince of Darkness," I set aside various readings from critics who had bellowed words alluding to sleep remedies as they watched and reviewed the show. Who were they to impose their sleep disorders on others, robbing the ordinary individual of naive excitement. I let my expectations, good and bad, dissipate as I surrendered to the time of the post American Revolution, with Lestat and his gang of blood seekers desiring the crimson kiss.
The opening scene, as well as much of the stage background during the show, was darkly atmospheric and artistically maneuvered with few props and scenery, allowing the story to begin with a moody and dramatic fervor. The lyrics, clearly phrased with heart and soul by Bernie Taupin, gave background and beginning to a story about to unfold, foretelling the plight of the anti-hero, Lestat. Sir Elton John, who is now on his fourth musical, is back working together with Taupin for his first time in theatre, with music that is truly magical and uplifting, considering the horror of the plays nature.
Under the direction of Robert Jess Roth, the highlight of Lestat was in the first act with the number, "Morality Play." A vampire play within the play, the performance gave humour to the story and provided insight into the mythology of the vampire. Hats off to Matt West for musical staging, Derek Mc Lane for set design, Susan Hilferty for costume design and especially, lighting by Kenneth Posner. Along with passionate choreography, their teamwork allowed a most impressive display of theatre as dancers unveiled colorful movement to an exhilarating light show.
In the movie Interview with A Vampire, by Anne Rice, we are introduced to the story from the point of view of Luis (played by Brad Pitt), with LESTAT (Tom Cruise) portrayed as the "bad" vampire. I was happy to see that in the Broadway version, with the book by Lindsay Wolvertone, LESTAT is given a chance to be understood as his story unveils and we see that he does have a conscience after all. We feel for him when he loses his mortality and becomes a vampire, and pities his predicament when he makes a vampire of his desperate, dying mother, played wonderfully by Carolee Carmelo. We also see his passion and search for the meaning of truth in his new eternal gift of life. His constant loneliness leads him to the new world of America, settling in New Orleans where he is thrust into a grief stricken relationship with other vampires who despise him for turning them into what they are.
Certainly the most naughtiest of all of them was the little girl vampire, Claudia, a riveting character, hauntingly reminiscent of Rice's daughter who died just before her 6th birthday. Played by Allison Fischer, who is destined for stardom with a voice that is all so powerful, her rendition of Claudia is mesmerizing and the fact that she can never grow up makes you feel sorry for her even as she fiends for blood. It is her craving that I certainly can compare with, wanting more of this show or of something like it as it ends.
Leaving the theatre that night, walking home alone, I wasn't quite sure what it was that I had an appetite more for, but it was worth an evening to see this show torn from a page from the little book of dreams that I desired within New York City.