Interview with Michael Kunze

     
 

Appeared in the German Musical Magazin, thanks for the translation go to Nils.

QUESTION: Why do you believe did 'Dance Of The Vampires' fail so badly - is it because the American critics cannot stand rock operas, or are the major changes that have been made to the piece responsible for the failure?

KUNZE: There are many reasons. The New York Times obviously never wanted this piece at all. Their reviews were insulting, and had probably already been written before the premiere. That can be seen that they didn't even mention anything positive, just like the performance of Mandy Gonzalez or some other members of the ensemble who did
a really great job. There have been at least a few things that could have been positively mentioned, but obviously the critics didn't want to write anything that could be used as a positive quote related to the show. I actually take what some other critics wrote much more seriously, since these also stated what exactly they didn't like and why.

Additionally, there have been many other problems that made the show fail. One of them is that Michael Crawford - who basically financed the whole thing - had an entirely different picture of the whole thing that the directors and Jim Steinman had. However, Crawford just had the power to do whatever he thought to be right. From his standpoint, what he did may indeed have been right, because he didn't want to play this romantic freak from "Phantom Of The Opera" again, and so he turned it into a comedy musical. The problem: The piece does not allow this to be done. Sarah must be able to fall truly
in love with the count. It just doesn't work if he's nothing but a comedian anymore.

And then, there was another thing I didn't like from the start: These childish dialogues, that had been added to turn it into something like "The Producers". Dance is a rock musical, there's just no room in there fore stupid jokes. But instead of leaving it as it were, everybody thought he'd have to improve it. In the end, however, there was no "final instance" that could fully realize their concept. The director would had have to do that, but he wasn't able to decide what was good or bad about both Jim Steinmans and Michael Crawfords ideas.

QUESTION: How much influence did the actual authors have anyway?

KUNZE: When I heard about the changes - much too late actually - I would of course have been able to stop the whole thing by means of a lawsuit. For ten million dollars, and without knowing what it would bring, I could have done that. Another thing I could have done was keeping my name totally out of the American production. I did actually really consider this second option. But that wouldn't have been a kind thing with regard to the producers. I mean those producers that took over the show - in the beginning, it was the manager of Jim Steinman, who then left the project due to whatever circumstances. I mean those producers that took over the show after that, they were not really experienced Broadway producers, but rather some kind of idealists. But they were actually very decent.

The last possibility I had was meeting with the director and tell him what I actually have against the unauthorized and senseless modifications that have been done to my original libretto. I made notes during these talks with the directors, and I passed these notes on to the other people involved, but unfortunately, no one seemed to care. The director improved a few things that were actually even worse in between, but the more important points did not get changed. This young John Rando is a very talented man, but I guess this project was too big for him. Like talking to a superstar who rejects any well-meant suggestions for change by saying "I don't wanna talk about it anymore." In the end, however, it'll be Crawford who is affected the most by this failure ... and I still artistically respect him. In the beginning, all the visitors that came to the show were there to see Crawford. And he couldn't give them what they wanted, namely another "Phantom Of The Opera". Artistically, this can be admired, because it means that he didn't make things easy for himself. He would have needed a really strong director and producer, but he just didn't have that. So there were many things responsible for the failure. It's not even surprising that it failed, because anything negative that could happen actually did happen.

QUESTION: Why does Jim Steinman now distance himself from the Broadway production

KUNZE: Well, the thing with Steinman was a dark chapter. After the premiere, he went public, distancing himself from the piece, which is about the most unfair thing one can do - not only, because he is responsible for most of the changes, but only because it's simply unfair to try to save your own reputation on the cost of others. I personally reacted very harshly to him in response to that. He even wrote me a reply, of course telling me that he didn't say all the things, was misquoted, blaming it all on the journalist.

QUESTION: Does that mean, that TANZ will (from) now (on) only be played in the version that can currently be seen in Stuttgart?

KUNZE: I think so. We just got a confirmation that this version will go to Japan, and it will also start in Sweden. Everyone else who was interested in the musical waited to see what would happen in the US. If it had been a success, it would certainly have been the US version that would have opened everywhere else. From this point of view, it could probably even be said that I'm not entirely unhappy that the US version didn't work.

After all, you learn from mistakes. And I didn't believe anyway that my first piece to open on Broadway would become an instant success.

QUESTION: From these experiences, what will you do differently with regard to "Rebecca"?

KUNZE: I'll just make sure that noone, be it a production company, a partner or whoever else, ever again takes the control of my piece away from me.

 

 

 

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