Yet Another Vampire Musical
-- by Richard Castle
In 2006 I flew up to San Francisco to see the pre-Broadway production of Lestat, a new musical based on Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles. With music by Elton John and lyrics by Bernie Taupin, the show was sure to be worth the trip. After all, I was a huge fan of Elton John's music, and I have always loved vampire stories. I've even had arguments about who was the better Dracula: Bela Lugosi or Christopher Lee. So you can imagine my excitement as I took my seat at the Curran Theatre on that rainy January night.
The show was a flop. People walked out before the intermission. I remember leaving the theatre wondering how a show written by such a talented team could go so horribly wrong.
Flash forward to August of 2011, when ANMT asked me if I would be willing to write a song for a producer who was interested in a new musical about vampires. With the memory of Lestat haunting me, I was torn as to whether to accept the assignment. However, I had recently seen a Swedish film called Let the Right One In, which offered a fresh take on the vampire story, and I felt newly inspired. Paired with composer Clifford J. Tasner, I wrote the lyrics to a song called And Ever. The song is about a vampire who dreads falling in love, because he is doomed to witness each of his mortal lovers grow old and die, leaving him to mourn them forever And Ever.
The Academy Repertory Company performed our song for the producer in November of that year, along with pitch songs from three other writing teams that had been assembled by ANMT. The producer liked everything he heard that night, and asked the writing teams to develop three different vampire shows.
With the influences of The Heiress, Rebecca and Vertigo, I hoped to fashion a dark, romantic and spooky show. Refining our material with the helpful feedback from the monthly Writer's Workshop at ANMT, Clifford and l completed a 45-minute one-act version to present to the producer.
In May of 2012, Bloodline was presented along with two other vampire shows: Coffins of the Mayflower (a farcical comedy) and Child of Ages (a drama). Based on the presentation, the producer was eager to see all three shows expanded, so Clifford and I got to work on the second draft of Bloodline. ANMT staff provided helpful notes, and the producer offered some suggestions as well. We added some more songs, discarded some that didn't work, and tried to flesh out a few of the characters. The producer staged a reading at the Met Theatre in Hollywood, providing feedback forms to the invited audience.
As I write this blog, I am busy working on the third draft of Bloodline, with hopes of a possible full-production. The hardest part of this process has been the expansion of the show to a 90-minute intermission-less one-act. It was originally structured to be a 45-minute musical. With each draft, it has been extremely challenging to expand the show without 'bloating' it. I have found the feedback to be extremely helpful, and I am currently outlining the newly expanded story. Keep an eye out for the next incarnation of the new vampire musical Bloodline.
I just hope it doesn't suck.