NEW YORK – "Lestat" may be looking for some fresh blood.
The Elton John-Bernie Taupin musical inspired by Anne Rice's "The Vampire Chronicles" has canceled its first two weeks of preview performances in New York and delayed its Broadway opening until April 25.
Previews at the Palace Theater will now begin March 25, instead of March 11 as originally planned. The initial opening date was April 13.
Choreographer Jonathan Butterell, who worked on such shows as "The Light in the Piazza" and the recent revival of "Fiddler on the Roof," has been brought in as a creative consultant "to provide an objective overview as it undergoes revisions," the producers, Warner Bros. Theatre Ventures, said Thursday in a statement.
The musical received scorching reviews during its San Francisco tryout, which ended Jan. 29. The San Francisco Chronicle called the show "didactic, disjointed, oddly miscast, confusingly designed and floundering in an almost unrelentingly saccharine score by Elton John." The San Jose Mercury News sniffed, "the vampire musical showed few signs of life."
Despite the downbeat notices, "Lestat" did hefty business in San Francisco, grossing more than $4.3 million during its six-week engagement at the Curran Theatre and breaking the theater's house record.
"Lestat" stars Hugh Panaro as Rice's flamboyant neck biter. The cast also includes such New York theater veterans as Carolee Carmello and Jim Stanek. One actor, Jack Noseworthy, who played the villainous Armand, departed before the San Francisco opening and was replaced by his understudy, Drew Sarich.
John wrote the music for "Lestat" and Taupin supplied the lyrics for the show, which has a book by Linda Woolverton. Robert Jess Roth is the director. "Lestat" is John's third Broadway musical, following his success with "Aida" and "The Lion King." The pop star also contributed the music to the current London hit, "Billy Elliot."