Home Theater Worse Than “Spider Man”: Elton John’s 2006 Broadway “Lestat”

Elton John has been getting might testy lately. First he went after Billy Joel for his drinking. Then on Saturday Night Live he took a poke at his “Lion King” collaborator Julie Taymor and her “Spider Man: Turn off the Dark.”  He sang a funny parody with the line “Can you smell a bomb tonight?” to the famous “Lion King” song he wrote. 

But Elton has a short memory. Far worse and a bigger bomb than “Spider Man” was his 2006 musical, “Lestat.” Based on “Interview with the Vampire,” this staggeringly awful stinker played 33 previews and 6 actual performances before being shut down–its coffin nailed down tightly. To this day I cannot think of a show this bad. It was beyond. During the intermission of the previews performance I saw, literally everyone left. I had to buy a friend a drink to make him stay with me so I could review the show.

While “Spider Man” is at least filling seats and taking in around $1.3 mil a week–sometimes more–“Lestat” lost its total investment and was put away, never to be heard from again. The show may have flushed as much as $12 million down the drain. And like “Spider Man” there were last minute changes, and lots of nasty gossip. Unlike “Spider Man,” it did not have an overriding vision or framework that could sustain changes.

To wit: “I guess that’s why they called it a flop.”

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6 replies to this post
  1. You fail to recognize something. It was a HUGE success in San Francisco with the same cast, when moved the Broadway it under went more than several drastic changes (including a song or two being completely removed and new ones added). In fact it was the HIGHEST GROSSING pre-broadway show in SF history (which is a huge deal) beating out Wicked and Cats previously. It underwent changes. The SF and NY versions are much different. They cut out the projected images that tell Lestat’s story and much of the stage effects. Hugh Panaro (Lestat) and Drew Sarich (Armand) are phenomenal singers and are two of the top 10 tenors I’ve heard on stage.
    And one more thing, the plays based on The Vampire Chronicles 2nd book, The Vampire Lestat, not Interview with a Vampire (the 1st book).

  2. LESTAT played 39 regular performances, not 6. And “literally everyone” did not leave during any intermission of this show, in fact I would doubt that “literally everyone” has ever left during the intermission of any Broadway show, no matter how bad it is.

  3. You are wrong in your information regarding the run of Lestat. If your going to offer an opinion then state as such. Reporting the incorrect information does a disservice to the public and yourself not to mention the show. Lestat is no Lion King but then again Lion King is no Billy elliot!

  4. I have always been a fan of Elton John-this year I decided we should see him live and have good seats, we broke the bank and proceeeded off to see Elton-a nice woman in the line warned me about a concert that was interrupted because of the loud speakers, I thought ‘but not Elton John, surely not Elton John!’ Well, Elton took his place on the stage with a very small ensemble and after 30 minutes we fled, the sound was excruciating, we had to hold our ears shut, the ushers were passing out ear-plugs!!!!! He arrived far too late to do a sound check or just didn’t give a damn, I was never so disappointed and furious in my life-as far as we were concerned, Sir Elton was the bomb of a lifetime!!! MMH

  5. BTW I meant to say (the lack) of a stong producer. Clearly no one involved with LESTAT made the decisions that could have and would have improved it (like firing the book writer and the director). The problems were obvious. Like SPIDERMAN, everyone and their uncle pointed them out. But since no one was willing or able to take control the boat sailed on…onto the rocks. One suspects SPIDERMAN suffers from the same indecisiveness. But then name one person listed as producer that has even a fundamental knowledge of theatre or experience producing it (on any level) or even an understanding of what producing means. Anyone? Anyone? Crickets.

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