BWW Review: DANCE OF THE VAMPIRES at Theater des Westens, Berlin

BWW Review: DANCE OF THE VAMPIRES at Theater des Westens, Berlin

Whenever one of my US friends asks me about a successful German musical, it is for sure "Dance of the Vampires" that comes immediately to my mind. It was Jim Steinman (music) and Michael Kunze (lyrics) created the musical adaption of Roman Polanski's film from 1967. The show premiered in 1997, and has been running - with some short breaks - in Germany and Austria ever since.

It is the story of Prof. Abronsius and his student Alfred who come to Transylvania to find proof for the existence of vampires. While staying in a local tavern, Alfred falls in love with Sarah, the daughter of their landlord, at first sight. When Sarah is invited by the mysterious Count von Krolock to join him at a ball in his castle, Prof. Abronsius and Alfred follow her. They learn that von Krolock is a vampire and they try to fight him and rescue Sarah. The story ends with an unpredictable twist and the conclusion that sometimes the evil survives. It comes with very powerful songs e.g. "Total Eclipse of the Heart" or - my favourite one - "Unstillbare Gier" ("Insatiable Greed", also known as "Soliloquy").

On 17 March 2019, the German cast took their final curtain in Berlin, the last station of the current tour. I have seen the show several times since it opened in 1997. It is always interesting to see how the characters have developed or how they are reinterpreted by new cast members.

Last month I went to see the current production in Berlin. If there is one name connected to the leading character of Count von Krolock - beside Steve Barton who created this role and died too young - it is Thomas Borchert. He played this role in 2003 for the first time, and he has reprised it several times ever since. Count von Krolock is a complex character. You can fear him and at the same time you feel sorry for him. Mr. Borchert shows a certain self-assurance in the role which allows him to play with these character traits which Count von Krolock reveals. He recently stated in an interview that even after all these years - and (or because of) other projects he has been working on - he is still discovering new traits of Count von Krolock. Every evening and every moment on stage he is curious what this role has in store for him. If he would just repeat the behaviour of this character in a routine, he would quit.

There was once a Broadway adaption back in 2002 with Michael Crawford in the lead, but it failed after a short run. It was assumed that this show, which had undergone various changes, didn't meet the original one. However, the show is still popular in Germany and Austria and has a huge fanbase. The recipe may be the combination of a scary setting, a love story, humorous dialogues, energetic dance performances, catchy rock/pop songs as well as ballades ... and - of course - Count von Krolock.

Hopefully, Thomas Borchert will keep his curiosity in this character and will take over the role again in the future.



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From This Author Helge Arnoldt

It all started with my first show „The Phantom of the Opera“ back in 1990 when I fell in love with musical theatre at the (read more...)

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