Emo Vampire Chateau 

I hope you don't mind, I hope you don't mind, if I put down in words how much Elton John's Lestat musical sucks.

The first unofficial review of the Lestat musical crabbily surfaced within hours of its "official premiere" Sunday night, via a profane, frequently-all-caps posting to the Craigslist.com ticket forum. Subject line: "YOU WERE ALL ROBBED! LESTAT IS GARBAGE!" Its tone did not soften therein. "THE JOKE'S ON YOU AT $100 A TICKET," the irate reviewer opined. "You may as well have been robbed at gunpoint by highwaymen."

Moreover, the highwaymen undoubtedly would have had better dialogue, and the unpleasantries would've been over much faster.

A shame. A damned shame. With schlocky vampire queen Anne Rice as the inspiration, Elton John the tunesmith, and his omnipresent cohort Bernie Taupin siring the lyrics, Lestat arrived with a promising pedigree of sheer unabashed corniness. But if the chatter on Craigslist -- where jittery scalpers have nervously hawked tix for the show's ongoing six-week run at SF's Curran Theatre for $80 or so a pop -- is any indication, the show's starry-eyed road to Broadway may be rife with snarky highwaymen. "BWA-HA-HA-HA-HA!!!!!!!" noted another impolite poster. "If you have tickets to this farce, a wretched evening awaits. This is in or around FLOP!"

Avast: This naysayer speaks the truth. Lestat's first act is a disaster, from which its moderately rousing second act cannot recover. Like the Bible or your average NBA game, you needn't bother paying attention until halfway through; one person who seems to have heeded this advice is Elton John himself.

Let's say something nice now: The set is bitchin'. A series of transparent video screens flings about all manner of high-tech visuals, at their best recalling the grotesque badassery of old Tool videos, at worst resembling the corny computer graphics highlighted in those Academy of Art University ads you're bombarded with while watching Saturday Night Live. Have fun dreaming up your own comparisons, because nothing resembling a dramatic spark (or melody) surfaces in the first two hours of this hootenanny. It's like watching Fabio do overwrought interpretive dances to Fiery Furnaces records.

In addition to his flowing-maned Harlequin Romance visage, Lestat's titular hero is just ... so ... emo. He starts off impotently sparring with his daddy (shades of Phil Collins' "No Son of Mine" -- perhaps Sir Elton's sly nod to a contemporary) and whining daintily to his mom on bended knee with his head in her lap. From there he flees to Paris, gets bitten ("The thirst makes me thirsty!"), bites his mom (for companionship, or course), pisses off a rival bloodsucker dude, starts a theater company, and conducts a decade-long search for some reclusive vampire messiah who will ostensibly teach him to stop acting like such a puss. The playbill informs us that songs are performed during these events, but that's applying the word "song" rather liberally, I think. My notes during this act include "WTF," "Shut up," and "Melodies be suckin'."

Midway through, Elton deigns to actually show up. Act II opens in the New World, specifically "a barbaric city on the Southern coast," i.e., New Orleans, eliciting some nervous/sincere applause. As does "Welcome to the New World," the first Lestat tune whose construction I'm guessing Sir Elton was actually awake to witness -- anyone who's ever teared up while rocking "Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters" may get a bit misty-eyed here as well. Those who watched Tom Cruise act ridiculous in 1994's Interview with the Vampire will recognize the plot now: Lestat bites himself a couple friends, including a precocious blonde ten-year-old whose insolence triggers more overtheatrical emo whining. The ten-year-old (Allison Fischer) is by leaps and bounds the best thing about this whole affair, stomping saucily through the romp "I Want More" and actually compelling the audience to give a crap about something and/or someone for five minutes. Guess which character dies.

Elton does a better job in Act II of potentially conning someone into buying the soundtrack, though "Sail Me Away" fails to approach the grandeur of, uh, Styx. But by the time Lestat is prostrate before two weird Egyptian-lookin' vampire deities, I'm writing "WTF" again and this whole thing is back off the goddamn rails, for good. It's more or less impossible for a new musical to succeed in 2006 without embracing a So Bad It's Awesome nuclear campiness, but despite an opening line suggesting it's willing to make this all a big joke -- Lestat intoning "It's time this vampire shared his story with the world" before tapping daintily on an Apple laptop -- this debacle immediately embraces ultraserious, sub-MySpace-blog declarations such as "Fire! I was in fire! Flame all around me!"

The only credible musical our generation has produced is Team America: World Police; nothing Elton sneezes out can hold a candle in the wind to "America: Fuck Yeah" or "Everyone Has AIDS." Rent it for five bucks, or better yet, Netflix it and avoid running afoul of those pesky highwaymen. Sorry, Elton. The only way this turkey's actors are walking into a Broadway theater is via Craigslist. BWA-HA-HA-HA-HA!!!!!!!

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