The Edinburgh Playhouse

Tue, 06 Oct 2009 – Josie Balfour
Vampires Rock – 5 Stars! ***** (5/5) The Edinburgh Playhouse

THROUGH Vampires Rock a whole new level of obscure pub quiz trivia has been born. After all, even the most knowledgeable musical theatre buff would be hard pressed to find a way to link Roman Polanski, a Broadway flop with Michael Crawford at the helm, Toyah Willcox and a contestant from Stars in their Eyes. Yet through a unique chain of events involving the Polanski-directed German musical Tanz der Vampire, former Meatloaf impersonator Steve Steinman has found a way to indulge his love of rock while earning enough to pay the rent. If it hadn’t been for the failure of Tanz der Vampire’s English translation to the New York stage, then there wouldn’t have been room for Steinman to pick up the themes of the play and build his own rock tribute based on several of composer Jim Steinman’s (no relation) works. While both shows feature vampires, Jim Steinman’s hit Total Eclipse of the Heart and a penchant for bondage gear; Steve Steinman’s production plays out as a tribute to some of the greatest rockers of our time rather than as a musical in itself. In fact, Vampires Rock has no discernible narrative, the set looks like a Kiss concert leftover and the choreography could be described only as heavy metal by numbers. But then, it’s not about what the show is lacking, as what it’s got in buckets – and that’s attitude. Particularly with Toyah Willcox storming the stage as a disgruntled, PVC clad Vampire Queen.

Set in Baron Von Rockula’s nightclub in 2030, the hunt is on to find a new singer to take the place of the Vampire Queen. Sneaking out of school for the audition is naive Pandora (Emily Clark), blissfully unaware of the Baron’s nefarious plans for her. What follows is a set list of some of Britain’s favourite anthems linked tenuously by a series of themed skits saved from the bargain basement comedy bin only by the pantomime banter Steinman, as the Baron, shares with the audience. The punters lapped it up for what it was, a kitsch, tongue-in-cheek night out singing along to some old favourites. With a good band and outstanding vocal performances from Steinman, Willcox and Clark, the performers ripped through Killer Queen, It’s A Mystery, School’s Out and Since You’ve Been Gone as a first half warm up. Opening the second half with AC/DC’s Hell Bells, featuring a prodigious guitar solo, the show got into full swing as it worked its way through White Wedding, Poison and I Love Rock And Roll to Steinman’s standalone rendition of Bat Out of Hell. Ending on an encore of Knocking on Heaven’s Door, one couldn’t help but wonder if some of the audience hadn’t touched a little bit of paradise themselves. The full article contains 473 words and appears in Edinburgh Evening News newspaper.

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