By PATRICIA O'HAIRE
Michael Crawford and Mandy Gonzalez in 'Dance of the Vampires'
It has been 14 years since Michael Crawford first donned the mask that turned him into the Phantom of the Opera. Now he's ready for another disguise, as Count von Krolock, a mysterious bloodsucker in the new musical comedy "Dance of the Vampires."
The show, based on Roman Polanski's 1967 film "The Fearless Vampire Killers," also stars Mandy Gonzalez and Rene Auberjonois. It opens Nov. 21 at the Minskoff Theater (previews begin Oct. 14).
"I'll be wearing fangs and heavy makeup this time," said Crawford during a recent rehearsal. "No one's going to recognize me. This Count has a sense of humor. The Phantom never did."
Crawford never loses his smile as he talks about learning how to sing through his fangs.
"It wasn't hard at all," he says. "Funny thing is, I've never really been a fan of horror films or monster movies, yet here I am, first being a phantom, now a vampire."
The show's composer, Jim Steinman, has a multiplatinum track record as the writer of "Paradise by the Dashboard Light" and other songs for Meat Loaf. Steinman co-wrote the book for "Dance of the Vampires" with David Ives and Michael Kunze.
"Dance of the Vampires" comes here from Germany, where it has been running for almost five years. It is that country's longest-running musical.
Asked at the rehearsal if he had ever met a vampire, Steinman replied, "Oddly enough, no, though I've lived a vampire's life for the last 45 years or so. "
He added, "But if I did, I would refrain from sucking blood. I'm not against others doing it, though. With me, it's strictly a dietary thing."