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LESTAT on Broadway

During its pre-Broadway run at the Curran Theatre, LESTAT grossed $4,315,293, breaking the record previously held by Wicked.

On Broadway, LESTAT starred Hugh Panaro in the title role, Carolee Carmello as Gabrielle, Drew Sarich as Armand, Jim Stanek as Louis, Roderick Hill as Nicolas, Michael Genet as Marius and Allison Fischer as Claudia.

Lestat conlcuded its Broadway run on May 28, 2006. The announcement is available on BroadwayWorld.com.

Lestat stars record cast album. See the pictures on Broadway.com.

LESTAT was honored with two Tony Nominations:

Carolee Carmello
Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical for her performance of Gabrielle

Susan Hilferty
Best Costume Design of a Musical

Anne's reflections on Opening Night:

April 30, 2006

LESTAT ON BROADWAY: In a word: magnificent!        

The New York premiere of LESTAT was April 25th, 2006.

I’m overjoyed to report that I was there on opening night, stunned and amazed, and I’m eager to tell you just exactly what I saw.

But let me say this first:  I didn’t really create the character of Lestat de Lioncourt.  He lives and breathes in some nine different books that I wrote.  But how he came to be is truly something I can’t explain.

So if I write here about Lestat as if he was somebody else’s baby, there’s a reason for it.  He’s been out there on his own from the start.

Yes, he was based on my husband Stan -- on Stan’s vigor and beauty, on Stan’s will and Stan’s courage.  And  my son, Christopher, has grown up to be Lestat, and that’s a puzzle that commands respect.

Yet Lestat is my alter ego, lover, muse and the unabashed hero of my crippled, genderless soul.  I’m in love with the guy. I prowl the world looking through his eyes from time to time.  For decades, there was nothing I couldn’t express through Lestat’s voice.

So when  a production captures Lestat perfectly as this unique and thoroughly original musical by Elton John and Bernie Taupin has done,  well, I can’t mumble about it, feigning humility.   That would be pointless. I’m too enchanted, too intoxicated, too frankly thrilled.

Now back to what happened on the stage of the Palace Theater in New York last week.

After years of anticipation on my part, I saw the curtain rise, and who should be there but my hero,  complete and entire from the first second, so fully realized that I am on the verge of tears. Hugh Panaro was a giant as he moved around the stage with the grace of a panther. His voice was lustrous and immense as he sang Elton John’s rich, melodic and truly glorious music.  Bernie Taupin’s brilliant lyrics got right to the point.  In essence, Lestat put it out there:  I’m young, I’m strong, I’m you! --  and I’m gonna die!

Why do I say this when my hero is an immortal? When the “theme” of the musical is that he will live forever?  Because we are all both mortal and immortal, creatures locked in time, yet conceiving of eternity, and that is what the play was most certainly about.

I knew instantly the production was a triumph; and to the final curtain it never let me down.  In those first few moments there was an explosion: here was the bravery, the skill, the power -- to deliver a true adaptation of something I’d somehow managed to unearth in my long and frantic excavations of the mind.

Effortlessly and briskly the musical moved the hero into the presence of Carolee Carmello as Gabrielle, Lestat’s mother, and with astonishing power this actress worked a curious miracle, wringing a depth  from that character which was beyond what I myself had ever understood.  Yet this was Gabrielle -- and this was Gabrielle and Lestat together. At once they   transcended the mother and son bond; the alchemy of metaphor  was unleashing a muted fury.  These were any two people who had loved each other unselfishly and yet with total and consuming need.  The heat was white. The audience was spellbound. You could feel the exhilaration in the theater.  The great bursts of applause had begun.

And we were traveling swiftly into an alternative world in which our most pedestrian concerns and our greatest anguish could be confessed and examined to their very roots.

The night went on like that, with surprise after surprise, depths yielding to depths, with members of the audience often in tears.

Roderick Hill was vulnerable, seductive and heartbreaking as Lestat’s boyhood friend Nicolas.  Allison Fischer brought down the house as the child Vampire Claudia, a woman trapped forever in a little girl’s body, unschooled in compassion, yet steeped in pain. Jim Stanek was the embodiment of Lestat’s tragic grief-stricken partner, Louis. As the arch antagonist, the Satan of Lestat’s trials, Drew Sarich  was  deeply engaging  and  mystifyingly sympathetic.  Marius, the ancient one, came  to quiet strength in the person of Michael Genet, offering Lestat wisdom instead of despair.

Every voice in the ensemble was tremendous, flexible and shamelessly gorgeous;  song after lovely song  broke forth. The  plot, direction, story, and staging all moved with irresistible timing thanks to the genius of Rob Roth and Linda Woolverton -- until we were at last awakened by the final curtain from a hypnotic spell.  I didn’t want this to end. I wanted to be with my beloved Lestat. A celebratory joy had gripped the theater.  I’d witnessed a triumph all right.  It was one of the happiest nights of my entire life.

Of course the entire concept of the musical is romantic in  the finest sense of that word. It’s deliberately over the top.  

Lestat is the essence of the romantic man of sensibility, privileging his insight and his will to survive   over the voices of authority that would relegate him to the realm of the damned. In him, the vampire is a metaphor for the outsider in all of us, the predator in all of us, the alienated one and the rebellious  one, the being who  wants to live forever and yet be held tightly in some one’s loving and forgiving arms.

The show is about redemption because the characters won’t give up on it.  It’s about transcending in any way that you can. 

To create a musical this pure and this  committed to the big questions is to fly in the face of the weary world at every turn.

How dare you talk frankly about good and evil in an operatic context, one might ask. How dare you mention the name of God?  How dare you present characters who care whether or not God exists and what He thinks about us and our suffering?  And above all, how dare you affirm that heroes can and do rise to articulate our worst fears and our strongest longings?  How dare you do all this in a consummately entertaining and frankly beautiful piece of work? 

LESTAT makes no concessions whatsoever to cynicism, irony, or camp. The ambition and the achievement  are enormous here. The character and the play reach directly for the heart of the audience and will settle for nothing less.

Is it any wonder that every song is a show stopper? That cries accompany the exuberant clapping over and over again?  That standing ovations greet the final bows?   You leave the theater grateful for the nerve that went into this work knowing that you will never be able to fully  analyze how and why these strange, eccentric and extreme characters changed  your soul.

It’s a long road from Epidaurus to the Palace Theater. New dramatic forms have dazzled us and will continue to do so.  But only the stage can make the magic I saw in LESTAT.  Only living human beings coming together for a certain uninterrupted span of time in which they act, and sing, and pour their hearts out, can achieve this wondrous feat. 

That’s what I saw and  felt on Tuesday April 25th, 2006 at the premiere of this musical.  There’s no doubt in my mind that readers far and wide will love it and embrace it,  no doubt that Lestat has moved from literature to legend in a  divine theatrical incarnation in my own time.

Anne Rice,
April 30, 2006

GO TO BROADWAY.COM FOR EXCLUSIVE VIDEO AND PHOTOS FROM THE LESTAT PREMIERE--INCLUDING ANNE!


More information:
Theatergoer Reaction to LESTAT

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I have been waiting for this broadway play longer than I can remember. It was breath taking. Lestat and Claudie did the most amazing job a long with Elton John and those who brought this together. I must also comment it was also visually beautiful.

I can't thank you enough for bringing your writing and books into my life. I have always found a way to get lost in the writing and the hidden meanings within the stories. You have evolved through each novel and I am glad to see the success of the chronicles reach first film and now broadway.

You should be very proud :-)

I respect your writing and the depths you have reached with the courage to write about Christ the Lord. I look forward to the novels that follow.

Best Wishes Always,

Audrey


I went with my family to see Lestat on Friday May 12,2006. It was wonderful. When will there be a cast recording? I want to remember the feelings I had while watching the show. Very moving especially Claudias performance. Looking forward to the cast recording soon please.

Chris Potter


Dear Anne,

I was a lucky fan who was able to see Lestat on it's first run preview in NYC and, as a long time fan of Lestat, I was moved to tears after watching my vision of Lestat live and "real" in front of me. I couldn't get enough. It touched me so much that i am making a second trip from South Carolina to see Lestat again in NYC. It's like a found a piece of my soul there and having to abandon it to come back to my normal life was heartbreaking.

Lestat and his story have reivived a piece of my life i thought was long gone. I feel his anguish and his love. I feel as if my heart beats in time with his. He has become almost a real figure to me. And I'll tell you this, if it were possible ever to meet Lestat on the street and he offered me the "dark gift" i wouldn't hesitate. These Chronicles have given me an outlet in my life and the play only magnified it. My trip to see Lestat was also my first Broadway show and my first trip to NYC itself. I dont think i'll be able to stay away from NYC now because New York will always be Lestat to me.

Thank you for putting your wonderful stories into the hands of people who seem to care about it as much as I do. The play is beautifully done, the music is extremely moving and the actors are perfect. Poor Hugh, though, he will always be Lestat incarniate. It was such a pleasure to be a part of something so magical. I am on a countdown till June when i get to partake in the fantasy once more.

Again, thank you for your courage to cross so many lines in the making of this character. And i was so thrilled to hear that you loved the play. To me, that was the upmost compliment. Your letter to the fans on your website was beautiful. Your writing always gives me chills. I think you are a beautiful writer and a beautiful soul. Best of life to you.

Your devoted fan,
Mary C.


I was in NYC April 20-23. During that short time, I saw 5 shows: The Color Purple, The Odd Couple, The Drowsy Chaperone, Lestat, and Sweeney Todd (in that order). My personal favorite was Lestat. I could go into detail as to why, but I'll simply say that the characters and the music moved me more than the others. In April 2005 I made a similar whirlwind trip to see shows and my favorite on Broadway--during that trip--was Light in Piazza. The year before that, my favorite was Avenue Q. I have varied interests. Did it help my appreciation that I've read your books? Perhaps, but my cousin (with a much more extensive background in music and theatre than I could ever hope to have--but no prior acquaintance with your characters) also loved Lestat. Kudos and thanks to all for a fine show.

Patti Huber
Communication and Performing Arts Dept.
Madison Area Technical College
Madison, WI


Dear Anne,
I have been a fan of yours for almost 20 years. ( I am only 33, so I started young. Ha Ha). I have devoured your writings and loved the films that embraced your work. So, needless to say when Lestat came to New York, I had to go. I happened to be on a trip to NYC in Feb. to see the play Wicked, when I turned the corner on Broadway to only have Lestat and his blonde hair and cape facing me on a giant billboard. I stopped and screamed, literally. My friends laughed with excitement for my happiness. We left NYC and came home and instantly purchased tickets to return. I went yesterday to see the play. I cried, I laughed and I loved it!!! I was so thrilled with the cast and the music. Everything was perfect!! I didn't want it to end. My last three months awaiting that moment was over in 2 hours and 30 minutes! I was relieved I finally got to see it, but upset I no longer had Lestat, Armand, Louis and Marius with me any longer that day. I wanted to thank you for being a writer and bringing all of these characters into my life. I have met you twice and I even came to your house on 1st street, when you were living there, for a tour. (By your cousin Billy, if I'm correct). I have all of your novels and I even thought of moving to New Orleans at one time. You have made a huge impact on my life with your books. Thank you, thank you, thank you..............Your fan eternally, Michele French


LESTAT

BY J. Phillips
As posted on http://www.eltonfan.net/news/index.shtml

Much of the recent critical disdain for Lestat has centered around the unlikely notion of making yet another musical about vampires. The idea has failed twice before in recent years, what makes this one any different, right? It?s also not exactly something that you might want to take the kids to either, is it?

Despite my fear of having to endure blood and bats, Lestat turned out to be quite different from what I might have imagined. The music is both complex yet uniquely Elton. The set is minimalist which properly puts the emphasis where it belongs. But there?s more. This is also a very intelligent musical.

At some point in every man's life, there comes a time when he confronts his mortality and asks the big questions such as "why am I here?" and "who will remember me?" Some artists amongst us have the comfort of knowing that their art will go on living far beyond their lifetime, a reality that surely the musical collaborators must now be willing to acknowledge. For the rest of us, there is religion, a source of the kind of reassurance we need - that we too will not be forgotten.

It seems that there is an escape hatch for those who are neither religious nor artistic. Enter Anne Rice. The problem of course is that not all of the lucky few make a conscious choice to "die young and live forever," a source for endless philosophical discussion, for example, must all vampires by nature be bad?

Musically, Lestat has three outstanding songs, "Right Before My Eyes," "I Want More" sung beautifully by Allison Fischer as Claudia, and "Sail Me Away." While the other songs have the typical sing-song quality of many Broadway musical numbers, they are also Elton John numbers, and that brings its own unique character to them, even if not as memorable. Sometimes Elton's music requires a second listen to fully appreciate.

Lyrically, Lestat has so much ground to cover that Taupin has to use every word very carefully to push the story along. This gave Elton quite a job, and as anyone who knows how they write together, it's Bernie's words which really set the tone and feel for the musical result. Predictably, some of the early and middle pieces are by word and necessity rather dark and complex, generating powerful feelings for those familiar with Elton's work while at the same time laying the foundation for the groundswell of emotion in the more powerful and memorable numbers.

This is Elton's fourth musical, and while it's a first for Bernie, it's an artistic achievement in bringing something of this intellectual caliber to the musical stage. The choice speaks volumes about the artistic taste of the musical collaborators. Far from the camp "gay vampire" musical some might suggest, this is a smart musical that may live or die on word of mouth no thanks to the thrashing it's received in the papers. Let's hope that word of mouth keeps it around a while, at least long enough for the public to appreciate its crimson beauty.


Dear Anne,

As a long-time fan of yours, I was anxious and excited for Christ the Lord to come out. Would I like it? Would I be disappointed? Would it live up to my expectations??

I couldn’t believe I felt all these mixed emotions surrounding this work, as a simple fan. But, ultimately, I decided what I enjoy most about your work is the brilliant writing, the historical accuracy and detail, AND without doubt, this would come through in Christ the Lord.

I have to admit, the first 3 chapters were a “transition time” for me, getting comfortable with a new voice in this work. But, it sucked me in like a whirlpool, slowly at first, and then by the last few chapters, I didn’t want it to end! I read the last sentence with the desire to read more. So there you go, I can hardly wait for the next book to arrive in my hands. Go Anne Go!

This past weekend, I was privileged to attend the opening of Lestat at the Curran Theatre in San Francisco. I was completely enchanted and brought to tears; I loved every second of it!! I heard through the grapevine that you attended, although I did not see you. My brother is a dresser on the show and gave me a tour of the backstage, AND showed me all the costumes!! I hope you were able to see the costumes in all their exquisite detail.

Personally, I enjoyed seeing your work onstage, more than in the movies. And to have it set to the lyrics and music of Bernie Taupin and Elton John is simply a dream come true for this fan!

Anne, let me thank you for sharing your Gift with us.

Showers of Blessings on you and your loved ones for Health, Joy, and Adventures,

Rochelle L.B. Begay
Pinon, Arizona

 

lestat

 

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