Broadway: “Dracula” - das Desaster

Dracula, von Broadways Kritikern geschlachtet

USA TODAY: “(…) But few of the syrupy tunes that Wildhorn has concocted here are likely to stick in your brain as stubbornly as Phantom’s thicker sap did. Dracula is further saddled with dunderheaded lyrics and a witless book, both contributed by Don Black and Christopher Hampton, whose idea of comic relief is having an anxious Southerner declare, “I ain’t been on tenterhooks like this since that night we were waiting for the tiger to come for that tethered goat down in Sumatra.”
Other characters are British, though some of the American actors playing them speak with such erratic accents you might wonder whether they have multiple personality disorders. Hewitt sounds authentically exotic or he handles his cartoonish dialogue like a good sport. Errico looks and sounds lovely, as does Kelli O’Hara, playing another doomed damsel.
I can’t imagine how they all got sucked into this mess, but I hope they’re rescued from the walking, singing death that is Dracula as soon as possible.”

Fangoria: “After the terrific but failed DANCE OF THE VAMPIRES last year, DRACULA seemed a new hope for the genre on stage, but these hopes are dashed by an emotionless production that offers neither frights, humor nor sexy encounters, despite the gratuitous nudity. Too bad.”

Playbill: “A frequently asked rhetorical question among the critics was: Were no lessons learned by the Jim Steinman debacle Dance of the Vampires? They had a point. That’s two vampire musicals on Broadway in less than two years, and two critical shellackings. This record should ensure that those other regional musical celebrations of the undead, such as Dracula, The Chamber Musical and Dracula ? The Game of Love, will stay well away from New York, which may now well strike the creators of those shows as not so much a big apple as a huge bulb of garlic.
As for The Vampire Lestat, that’s a different beast, simply by virtue of its authors, and its source material, the popular novel by Anne Rice, “Interview With a Vampire.” A new musical by Elton John and Bernie Taupin can’t be denied. (Why is it always pop composers who are attracted to this grisly tale?) At last report, producers Warner Bros. Theatre Ventures were aiming for a 2005 staging, which sounds much too soon. Of course, there are other places to open a big new musical than Broadway. London, perhaps. Even better, Las Vegas.”

New York Times: “1) The show is perfectly safe for people with heart conditions. (Those with respiratory problems should be aware that “Dracula” does exhale the usual tired quota of stage smoke.) Though the production features the inevitable shooting of guns, hammering of stakes and biting of necks, it is guaranteed never, ever to raise anyone’s pulse, let alone induce screams and shivers. Though Tom Hewitt, in the title role, and several toothsome vampirettes can be seen moving through the air from time to time, the story never swoops or flies. It plods, plot point by plot point, over the terrain first landscaped by Bram Stoker in his novel and later covered by a multitude of films of varying quality.

2) You don’t have to give it your full attention. (Convention speakers, take note: “Dracula” provides the perfect refuge for orators looking for somewhere to ponder quietly the details of their presentations.) If you already know the story of “Dracula” as put forth by Stoker and Hollywood, you will find nothing to surprise you here. If you don’t know the story, you will find it impossible to follow. The show assumes the audience’s full acquaintance with the source material and delivers much of its crucial exposition through sung lyrics that are not always intelligible. Do not ? repeat, do not ? fall into the trap of trying to justify the logic of the would-be vampire killers’ methods of extermination, the consideration of which consumes a lot of stage time. That way madness lies.

3) There is no danger of gooey, irresistible melodies sticking to your memory. Though the songs have promisingly top 40-ish titles like “Forever Young” and “Life After Life,” they are unlikely to be recorded by Rod Stewart or Cher. Mr. Wildhorn may be famous for creating rafter-rattling soft rock anthems that are heard at sporting events and beauty pageants (e.g., “This Is the Moment” from “Jekyll and Hyde”). But for “Dracula,” he has created a score that is mostly rambling, monotonous pop recitative. (It is performed by a six-piece orchestra that is an advertisement for the ear-drowning capabilities of synthesizers.) Only one number ? which doesn’t make much sense in terms of the story (but no, don’t think about that) ? feels like a candidate for a Streisand album. It is called “The Heart Is Slow to Learn,” and it is sung in lovely voice by the ever-lovely Melissa Errico, who really deserves better. (…)”


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