Tanz der Vampire is an Austrian musical with music by Jim Steinman and lyrics by Michael Kunze. It's The Musical of The Fearless Vampire Killers, and has the same general story, but with several alterations. All in all, it's a decidedly more raucous, over-the-top experience than the movie, chock full of Alternative Character Interpretation.Vienna, Austria, 1997: The original production, with the late Steve Barton as Graf von Krolock and Cornelia Zenz as Sarah. It won a few IMAGE Awards (the European equivalent to the Tonys), including Best Actor in a Musical (Steve Barton) and Best Supporting Actress in a Musical (Eva Maria Marold as Magda), and featured costumes by Sue Blane of The Rocky Horror Picture Show fame.
The basic plot features Hunter of Monsters Professor Abronsius and his timid, feeble assistant Alfred arriving in a Transylvanian village straight out of Hammer Horror. Alfred falls in love with the innkeeper's daughter Sarah, and she toys with him a bit before running off to the local castle instead. Of course, said local castle is infested with vampires, lead by Count von Krolock and his Camp Gay son Herbert (who has his own eye on Alfred), and Sarah prepares to become Krolock's new Queen of the Night at a lush vampire ball. Alfred, unaware that she's happier this way, valiantly tries to rescue her (when he's not screaming like a girl). Meanwhile, Sarah's father is turned into a vampire himself, and he goes on to turn Magda, the beautiful and chaste maidservant he's been lusting after for years, into his undead girlfriend.
There was a Broadway version called Dance of the Vampires, but mentioning this is a good way to get hit in the face by fans of the European version. (Indeed, the American producers fired Jim Steinman from the project for protesting their Executive Meddling.) In Europe this show is largely regarded as the exception to the idea that all vampire-themed musicals will fail, which otherwise applies as strongly as it does in America (Frank Wildhorn's Dracula tried to mimic the Tanz formula by having the score rewritten as a rock show and even casting perennial Krolock Thomas Borchert as Dracula. It lasted only a little longer than it did on Broadway).
Productions so far:
Stuttgart, Germany, 2000: Responsible for saving the theater that put it on. Originally starred Kevin Tarte as Krolock and Barbara Köhler as Sarah. Introduced a new song, "Stärker als wir sind", that replaced Sarah's dream ballet in the original production.
Tallinn, Estonia, 2000 (Vampiiride Tants): A loosely staged concert version, with Jassi Zahharov as Krolock and a then-15-year-old Nele-Liis Vaiksoo as Sarah, in the role that launched her career.
New York City, United States, 2002 (Dance of the Vampires): The only English-language production to date was a Broadway disaster, due in part to severe revision which changed the story a lot and turned the humor from darkly funny to slapstick and unfunny (and added to the idea that vampire-themed musicals don't work on Broadway). Starred Michael Crawford as Krolock, Mandy Gonzalez as Sarah, and Rene Auberjonois as Professor Abronsius. Jim Steinman hates this version.
Hamburg, Germany, 2003: Thomas Borchert as Graf von Krolock and Jessica Kessler as Sarah. Both of them are now strongly associated with these roles, Borchert to the point of being typecast (see listings below). The cast of the film version of The Lord of the Rings stopped by in a highly publicized event while they were in town for the German premiere of one of the films in the trilogy, leading to This example contains a YMMV entry. It should be moved to the YMMV tab.a picture of Borchert in full Krolock makeup and costume with Hammer Dracula Christopher Lee.
Warsaw, Poland, 2005 (Taniec Wampirow): Introduced new costumes, sets and orchestrations. Featured Lukasz Dziedzic as Graf von Krolock and Malwina Kusior as Sarah. Also starred a then-nineteen-year-old newcomer named Jakub Wocial as Herbert, who's now one of the biggest rising stars in European musical theater.
Tokyo, Japan, 2006 (Vampiru no Dansu): Entirely reconfigured production (restoring Sarah's original dream ballet rather than "Stärker als wir sind," the only production to do so) with Japanese stage legend Yuichiro Yamiguchi as Graf von Krolock and Chichiro Otsuka and Tamaki Kenmoci alternating as Sarah.
Berlin, Germany, 2006: Thomas Borchert as Graf von Krolock and Lucy Scherer as Sarah. Also notable for the casting of Deutschland sucht den Superstar (the German equivalent of American Idol) winner Alexander Klaws as Alfred.
Budapest, Hungary, 2007 (Vámpírok Bálja): New sets and costumes; still playing. Currently, the role of Krolock alternates between Géza Egyházi and Gábor Bot (and Bálint Merán), while Zsanett Andrádi, Lotty Kovács and Anna Török share the role of Sarah. Máté Kamarás, who understudied Herbert in the original Vienna production, has also alternated in the part in Budapest.
10th Anniversary Concert in Vienna, Austria, 2007: Thomas Borchert as Graf von Krolock and Marjan Shaki as Sarah. Minimal staging using the Polish costumes except for the finale.
Oberhausen, Germany, 2008: Kevin Tarte and Jan Ammann alternate playing Graf von Krolock (Tarte's enthusiasm for the role makes it hard to understand why Borchert keeps getting it when he's tired of it). In the spirit of representing many international Tanz productions, Nele-Liis Vaiksoo reprises her career-making role as Sarah, while the alternate Magda and Alfred (Tímea Kecskés and Tibor Héger) hail from the Hungarian cast. Jakub Wocial appears as alternate Herbert.
Tokyo, Japan, 2009: Summer revival featuring the original Japanese cast save for a few switchouts (Sylvia Grab replacing Yuko Miyamoto as Magda, for example).
Vienna, Austria, 2009: Thomas Borchert as Graf von Krolock, with Marjan Shaki as Sarah, as well as original cast members Gernot Kranner and James Sbano as Abronsius and Chagal respectively and original Hamburg Magda Anna Thorén returning to the show as well.
Stuttgart, Germany, 2010: Kevin Tarte and Jan Ammann alternate playing Graf von Krolock, with Lucy Scherer and Sabrina Auer alternating as Sarah. Linda Konrad returns from the Oberhausen production as Magda, joined by a performer who had played Chagal in Hamburg, Berlin and Oberhausen. Overall, many of this production's cast have appeared in at least one production of the show somewhere, which is fitting considering this production began as the result of winning a contest to determine what show would replace Wicked for six months till a new show takes the theater. The production transferred to Berlin in November 2011, with Drew Sarich taking over the role of von Krolock.
Antwerp, Belgium, 2010 (Dans der Vampieren): An official cast recording has been released.
Seinäjoki, Finland, 2011 (Vampyyrien Tanssi): Premiered in September 2011. The script was translated by Marika Hakola, and the show will star Jyri Lahtinen as von Krolock, Raili Raitala as Sarah, and Ville Salonen as Alfred. The production's Facebook page can be found here. Someone seems to have decided to use the title Dance of the Vampires in the logo (according to fans connected to the show, English is more prevalent in advertising in Finland), but no worries, the production will be the European version.
Nitra, Slovakia, 2011 (Ples Upírov): A Slovak student production, similar to the above "non-replica" Finnish production, premiered on May 3, 2011 under the direction of Peter Oravec.
St. Petersburg, Russia, 2011 (Бал вампиров, Bal Vampirov for those used to Anglicized spelling): Premiered at the same time the Finnish production did, at the St. Petersburg State Theater of Musical Comedy. This production also has a Facebook page. Starring Ivan Ozhogin as von Krolock, Elena Gazaeva as Sarah, and Georgy Novitsky as Alfred. Ivan Ozhogin later went on to play Von Krolock in the 2013 Berlin production.
Paris, France, 2014 (Le Bal des Vampires): This production, directed once again by Polanski, opened in October 2014 at the Théâtre Mogador in Paris. Featuring French comedian/singer Stéphane Métro as von Krolock and Rafaëlle Cohen as Sarah, this was the first European production to meet with largely negative critical notices in the major newspapers, but has by all reports remained an audience favorite.
Berlin, Germany, 2016: A triumphant return to the Theater Des Westens which opened April 24, 2016 and transferred to Munich in October 2016. Stars included Mark Seibert (later replaced by Jan Ammann) as Graf von Krolock and Veronica Appeddu as Sarah. This production debuted a scaled-down, tour-ready version of the classic production design utilized in previous Stage Entertainment presentations, presumably created for ease of transfer.
Vienna, Austria, 2017: Revival staged at the Ronacher, with Drew Sarich starting the run as von Krolock, then Mark Seibert, then Thomas Borchert (yes, again), followed by Seibert and Sarich each having a second go.
St. Gallen, Switzerland, 2017. An all-new version directed by Ulrich Wiggers that, without changing the book or lyrics at all, gives the story a modern-day Setting Update to a post-Soviet health resort on the grounds of the castle, with Sarah as a Goth Nightmare Fetishist in a hurry to grow up and Krolock as a suave blond playboy. This version has its own section on this page below the Broadway adaptation’s tropes.
The Oberhausen cast performed a multilingual version of the finale in 2008, giving hints that there may be Italian and Portuguese productions as well in the future. There have been talks afoot about a production in the UK, but producers are reportedly unwilling to touch it for the two-fold reason of a) the show's English title not being changed to something other than Dance of the Vampires, and b) the show's unfortunate Broadway reputation under said title. Rumors of a new English version being in the works ultimately proved to be unfounded at the moment, but this does not preclude later plans.