Pop music icons Elton John and Bernie Taupin will create the music and lyrics for a Broadway musical version of Anne Rice's "The Vampire Lestat." Warner Bros. is developing the show as the first proje

Pop music icons Elton John and Bernie Taupin will create the music and lyrics for a Broadway musical version of Anne Rice's "The Vampire Lestat." Warner Bros. is developing the show as the first project under its new Warner Bros. Theatre Ventures division.

John says he expects to complete "Lestat" by the end of September for November read-throughs and that the show will come alive in 2005. The project marks John and Taupin's first Broadway collaboration, though John already has the Walt Disney Co. hits "Aida" and "The Lion King" under his belt.

Culled from three of Rice's works in her "Vampire Chronicles" series -- "Interview With the Vampire," "The Vampire Lestat," and "Queen of the Damned" -- the Broadway show is being scripted by Linda Woolverton ("The Lion King") and will be directed by Robert Jess Roth ("Beauty and the Beast"). "Interview" and "Damned" have already been turned into features by Warner Bros. Pictures.

Taupin, who has been a Rice fan since the mid-1970s, says that the production will trace the story of the Lestat character -- played by Tom Cruise in the big-screen "Interview" -- but eschews much of what is expected with most vampire-themed entertainment.

"Please let me make this clear, this is not a rock opera," Taupin says. "Our intention is to make a classically based show that is stripped of Gothic cliches and that shows the vampire dealing with damnation on a more human, realistic level."

The songwriters say they have written five compositions for "Lestat" and that no electronic music will be included in the production. No casting decisions have been made, though John did say that the "Lestat" lead would need a combination of charisma and a great set of pipes.

"['Interview'] is one of my favorite books, and Anne Rice is one of my favorite authors," John says. "Although this project has taken a while to come together, I firmly believe we have the right team in place. [This] is the first stage musical that I've written with Bernie, which makes it even more special for me."

Theatre Ventures executive VP Gregg Maday, who will produce "Lestat" with Broadway veteran Emanuel "Manny" Azenberg ("The Lion in Winter"), said that the company's musicals could likely see their way to the big screen down the line. In a reverse scenario, sources have said that Warner Bros. franchise "Batman" is also being developed as a possible Broadway project.

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