Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Berlin Vampires

So. After traveling 1,300+ kilometers for a musical we never got to see, we returned to Berlin and decided to do the next best thing – see Stage Entertainment's production of Tanz der Vampire in Theater des Westens.

Thank heavens for dancing vampires.

So far, I have only seen the two Finnish productions of Tanz der Vampire. Therefore, even though it's a replica of the 1997 original production, the Berlin Tanz – directed by The Fearless Vampire Killers director Roman Polanski – felt rather fresh to me. Something in the overall look and feel of the piece tells me the direction dates from way earlier than 2016, and in a different state of mind, I would probably have had more problems with it. But for a first-timer in emotional turmoil, it was all good.

For me, Kirill Zolygin's (u/s) Count von Krolock was the most fascinating performance in the show. His take was just so different from any of the Finnish von Krolocks I have seen so far. Thus, he opened my eyes to a whole new side of the character I have never seen in action before. Less passive and discreet, less melancholic, more bitter.

I don't know if alive is the right word to use when you're discussing vampires... So let's say Zolygin's Krolock is very active. It seems like he's in control of whatever situation he's in and has a good, at times almost exhilarating time seducing his victims to their deaths – until the moral hangover hits. Zolygin's Unstillbare Gier was the highlight of the show. The song was a journey through moments of sorrow, regret, self-hatred, disdain, sense of superiority and cold bitterness. Super fascinating to watch.

Professor Abronsius, played by Victor Petersen, was another interesting character to me. This version of the professor is, though determined, super old and frail. Alfred seems like 25% professional assistant, 75% geriatric nurse... But, compared his younger, more energetic and arrogant Finnish collegues, the Berlin professor is way easier to like. He's not a coward but an old man who, no matter how much he wants to, cannot hunt vampires with such vigor as he used to anymore. (Interestingly, judging by his photo in the programme, Petersen cannot be a day over 30 in real life.)

As a whole, the cast was good and evenly matched. Alfred (Tom van der Ven) and Sarah (Marina Maniglio, u/s) didn't really move me, but I quite enjoyed Merel Zeeman's spirited Magda, Sander van Wissen's (u/s) dangerous Herbert and Yvonne Köstler's surprisingly touching portrayal of Rebecca.

All in all, I had an amazing time.

The first act didn't really blow me away (it never does) but the second act just kept getting better and better. It was very nice to see moments I've watched on Youtube and seen in photos come to live. This staging also helped me to understand the charm of some scenes I haven't really been a fan of before. Ewigkeit, with the vampires rising from rows and rows of coffins, made a big, unexpected impression on me.

Some moments, on the other hand, were... comical. I couldn't help snickering, watching the Black Vampire dance his way to Dream Sarah's heart and throat during Carpe Noctem. Airbrushed abs and showy strutting around in tight tight leather pants. I've always thought Carpe Noctem is Alfred's own dream, I don't believe it's influenced by von Krolock – so the Count must've left quite an impression on our young hero the night before!

The prices for row 24 seats were high (70 € per ticket), but to the staging's credit, it must be noted it's enjoyable even from the very back. Usually, I like front rows better, but I feel this production might feel too in-your-face if you got really close. From my seat, the world of the vampires looked beautiful.

I saw Tanz der Vampire a day after experiencing the biggest disappointment in recent memory. I don't think any other musical would have felt quite as good in that moment as this.

Tanz is a very cynical story. The heroes all lose and the day is not saved – and everybody in the audience cheers. The title song is already my favourite musical finale, and this time, it felt extra amazing. I've listened to the German versions literally over a thousand times, and to hear it live in German for the first time after everything that had just happened... I hope you can imagine, since I don't think I can find proper words right now.

Thank you for the midnight ball that made everything better, von Krolocks and company.

Photos by Even Press.
Related reading: The story of the 1,300+ km disappointment


  1. I'm glad you got something so good to make things better after your big disappointment! I've seen the original production of Tanz der Vampire many times, but it can be wonderful with a good cast (though Germans seem to specialize in bland Alfreds and Sarahs). And oh, I love the standard Ewigkeit choreography. Though I liked the Helsinki version as well, I really missed the strong movements on the beats. Very impressive and threatening feeling.

    Haha, yes, the Carpe noctem abs. I think the scene has become more and more about that over there as time has gone on. ;-)

    1. Thanks! Yeah, glad it was Tanz playing in Berlin and not, say, Love Never Dies...