Blood curdling awful; biting funny
An eerie graveyard littered with majestically outsized tombstones descends dramatically from above. As it glides into position, white and gold faced vampires dripping with tattered gauze and jewels arise one by one from their crypts to do a song and dance number to begin Dance of the Vampires. As they emerge from their coffins and vocalize, dozens of lights move, spin, and change colors as fog is pumped from hidden smoke ports. During the course of the night, scenery shifts and set pieces glide in from the wings, their noise covered over by music blasted from speakers placed all over the theatre. At a castle ball, dancers are tossed into the air and fly around magically. Red eyes glow and giant bats appear at open windows, flap their wings and start to sing. What wizardry! What technology! What a waste… as Dance of the Vampires is as empty as a looted casket. Not that there aren’t a few good moments in the show: enormous and impressive sets, a few fab costumes, and a few funny lines that I imagine were written by David Ives (Ives, Steinman, and Michael Kunze are credited with the book). Some of the songs work, especially when Mandy Gonzalez sings them in this, her first major Broadway appearance. One of the three elaborate dance numbers by John Carrafa is excellent, but if you’re keeping musical score, there just aren’t enough check marks in the plus column to make this worth seeing. A word to describe the evening is flat and if ever there was a show of which to say that you walked away humming the scenery, Dance of the Vampires is it. The musical is based loosely on The Fearless Vampire Killers, Roman Polanski’s 1967 comic movie and also on other films such as Carl Dryer’s silent Vampyr and the Bella Lugosi Dracula films, particularly Brides of Dracula. The story is complicated and barely worth repeating (especially since I’m not recommending you see the show). Michael Crawford, a bit too long in the tooth for a vampire and he’s pudgy in his black leather vampire suit. He does still retains his vocal finesse. His songs are effective, but you’ll be thinking Phantom of the Opera redux. Crawford does double duty in the show. He’s both the Count and his wife, Madame Von Krolock. He’s more convincing and humorous as Madame. In the playbill the actor credited as Madame is Dame Edith Shorthouse—now you won’t have to wonder who that is.