Critics Sink Fangs Into Lestat

With titles such as “Bloody Awful” and “Elton’s Vampire Musical ‘Sucks'”, the reviews have not been kind to the Lestat, the musical incarnation of Anne Rice’s The Vampire Chronicles. The January 2006 issue of The Genre Traveler announced the premiere, now the blog brings you the critic’s opinions.

Robert Hurwitt, Theatre Critic for The San Francisco Chronicle felt that the musical was “didactic, disjointed, oddly miscast, confusingly designed and floundering in an almost unrelentingly saccharine score by Elton John.”

He has two main complaints. The first is with Lestat is the lead character. “Woolverton and Taupin have had to truncate so much of the story that they’ve barely sketched in the main character,” he wrote. “Hugh Panaro, who plays the role, is tall, reasonably dashing and sings with a big, powerful voice, but seems lost in his long stretches of dialogue.”

The second is with the songs, which he claims “range from mildly interesting to, for the most part, banal and virtually undistinguishable.” He writes that the lyrics are “often woodenly prosaic and rarely advance the story or out understanding of the characters.” And, he blasts Elton John for spending “most of the evening trying to become Andrew Lloyd Webber at his most vapid and pretentious.”

Tiger Hashimoto, who wrote the review for The San Francisco Examiner, admits that he came to the musical without any preconceptions. “I didn’t read the book (or see the movie),” he wrote. However, he also felt that John’s music was “vapid,” and dislikes the lead character. “After Lestat is ‘made’ as a vampire (without any warning or motivation),” he wrote, “he mostly kills men in grisly, on-stage murders that had me cowering and wincing — and I’m a martial arts fan. The rest of the time he is whining about why everybody leaves him.”

Dennis Harvey wrote in Variety that “despite subject and talent involved, [Lestat is] lacking the memorable high points these watchable, listenable nearly three-hour tuner needs to play as more than a rambling timeline of several high-pulp novels’ picaresque events.”

Chad Jones of The Oakland Tribune overcame his “almost overwhelming” urge to “say that the new vampire musical Lestat sucks.” However, he conceded that “the creative team has nearly driven a wooden stake through the heart of author Anne Rice’s much-loved Vampire Chronicles.” He gave Hugh Panaro a slight nod, though, when he wrote, “Panaro does have a beautiful singing voice, but John and Taupin have failed to provide him with a defining number.”

Karen D’Souza of the San Jose Mercury News was less kind to Panaro. “Shaking his mane like a lion, the actor strikes one to-die-for pose after another as the flamboyant vampire. If pouts could kill, watch out.”

Georgia Rowe of The Contra Costa Times summed it up in this sentence: “The greatest danger in the new Elton John-Bernie Taupin musical, based on The Vampire Chronicles by Anne Rice, is death by boredom.” She went on to write that “the new show doesn’t capture the romance or the otherworldly qualities of Rice’s novel,” nor does it “approach Rice’s sense of authenticity.”

If any of you happen to see this musical, please let the rest of us know what you think! We’d love to hear what a genre traveler thinks of this production.


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About the author

As The Genre Traveler, Carma Spence loves to view the world through Genre-Coloured glasses. In other words, she sees the world through a lens of science fiction, fantasy, and horror, where trash cans can be Daleks in disguise and neighborhood forests can harbor faeries and sprites. Magic realism is real! Or at least you can choose to see the world that way to add to the fun and awe of life.