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    Elton Does Singing Vampires

    Now that Buffy is heading into retirement, the time is right for some singing vampires to hit the stage.

    At least that's what Elton John seems to be thinking, announcing Tuesday that he has decided to sink his teeth into a new blood-sucking Broadway musical.

    The singer and his longtime songwriting partner, Bernie Taupin, will pen music and lyrics for The Vampire Lestat, a brand-new musical based on the bestselling Anne Rice novels about the undead prince turned rock star slated for a 2005 Broadway debut.

    The musical will chronicle the adventures of Lestat and will draw on characters and events from all three of Rice's bestselling novels: Interview with the Vampire, Queen of the Damned and The Vampire Lestat.

    John, whose previous Disney-backed Broadway forays with Tim Rice produced the long-running, Tony-winning megamusicals The Lion King and Aida, said the new project is a labor of love.

    "I am so thrilled at last to be working on this project. Interview with the Vampire is one of my favorite books, and Anne Rice is one of my favorite authors. Although this project has taken awhile to come together, I firmly believe we have the right team in place."

    Taupin said the collaboration has been a long time coming and that he and John already have some solid plans for the project, which he calls "the opportunity of a lifetime." He also promises to spare audiences from the dreaded "rock opera."

    "Our intention is to make a classically based show that is stripped of gothic clich├ęs and that shows the vampire dealing with his damnation on a more realistic and human level," he explained. "Please let me make this clear--this is not a rock opera. Our hope is that it will be stylish, sexy, intelligent, rich and hypnotically dark."

    John added that he is composing music for an orchestra and swears there will be no newfangled modern music or electric components to the musical. "I didn't see where any modern music could possibly come in without sounding ridiculous," he said at a press conference Tuesday.

    He also said he has not cast a lead for the role, but he does have a serious job requirement: a good voice. "My main concern is finding people who can sing the songs properly," he said.

    Warner Bros., the show's producer and a virgin to all things Broadway, is hedging its purported $10 million to $15 million bet, according to the New York Daily News, bringing a host of Hollywood and theater veterans on board for the project.

    Joining John and Taupin, who has collaborated with John since the 1960s, will be Tony-nominated Beauty and the Beast director Robert Jess Roth. Emanuel "Manny" Azenberg, who has produced more than 50 shows on and off Broadway is also involved as a producer for Warner Bros. Theatre Ventures. The show will also feature a book by Lion King, Beauty and the Beast and Aida vet Linda Wolverton.

    The Anne Rice plots have already been turned into movies with mixed results for Warners: the Brad Pitt-Tom Cruise teaming in Interview with a Vampire proved to be bloody good for the studio in 1994, but the Aaliyah-led Queen of the Damned was DOA at the box office last summer.

    While the studio is hoping it will have a hit on its hands for its first foray onto the Great White Way, the last vampire musical to hit Broadway did plenty of sucking.

    This year's Michael Crawford-led musical Dance of the Vampires, based on the Roman Polanski 1967 horror flick spoof The Fearless Vampire Killers, was an utter monstrosity. Even Crawford, the Tony-winning original star of Phantom of the Opera couldn't fill seats, and the show closed in January after a measly 56 performances, with producers losing more than $12 million.

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