Gary Susman
May 07, 2003 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Vampires haven’t done too well on Broadway lately, but that’s not stopping Elton John, who announced yesterday that he and Bernie Taupin, his longtime lyricist, are adapting a musical from Anne Rice’s ”Vampire Chronicles” series. Unlike the recent musical flop ”Dance of the Vampires,” which closed in January after just 56 performances and a loss of $12 million, John and Taupin’s musical would eschew capes, crosses, and tap-dancing bloodsuckers, they promised. ”It will be dark, sexy, and scary, but that doesn’t mean it has to be cliche,” Taupin said Tuesday at a New York press conference.

Called ”The Vampire Lestat” (the musical will borrow from the Rice novel of that title, as well as her ”Interview with the Vampire” and ”Queen of the Damned”), the play will be the first Broadway show for Taupin and the third for John, who also scored the Disney-produced ”The Lion King” and ”Aida,” both likely to still be running when ”Lestat” opens in 2005. The musical’s libretto will be written by Linda Woolverton and directed by Robert Jess Roth, both of whom filled the same roles for Disney’s Broadway version of ”Beauty and the Beast.”

In another attempt to avoid cheese, John said his score will avoid rock instrumentation and use traditional orchestral instruments instead, as befits a story that goes back to the 1700s. ”I didn’t see where any modern music could possibly come in without sounding ridiculous,” he said.

The musical is likely to be the first production by Warner Bros. to reach the stage, attempting to follow Disney’s example of turning its film properties into Broadway shows. The movie studio is also planning another musical about a bat-man, or rather, Batman, and is hoping to get Tim Burton to direct a musical version of his 1989 film. Let’s hope ”Batman” has better luck than ”Dance of the Vampires” did; both are scored by Jim Steinman, best known for composing Meat Loaf’s hits.

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