PRAGUE — Springtime for Hitler in Germany?
That mind-boggler is part of the ambitious plan announced by the Alliance of Vienna Stages. Rudi Klausnitzer, CEO of the ambitious producing group (known locally as VBW) unveiled a four year program that includes the first production of Broadway hit “The Producers” in non-English-speaking territories.
Susan Stroman is scheduled to re-create her original production at Vienna’s famed Theater an der Wein in 2003, with a German production to follow.
How will German and Austrian audiences react to the show?
“We did a lot of research beforehand,” Klausnitzer told Variety. “There’s already a lot of satirical and comic material about Hitler on German TV, and all responses from German press was very positive.”
“The Producers” is just one of six musicals planned to premiere over the next four years in Vienna, where VBW has three of the city’s leading theaters.
“We’re looking four years ahead in order to get the synergies between the German producers,” Klausnitzer said.
Already attracting international interest are a pair of musicals with strong pedigrees: “Barbarella — The Musical” and “Wall Street.Com.” The former is based on Roger Vadim’s film, with English rock star Dave Stewart currently workshopping the music; Stuart’s former Eurythmics partner Annie Lennox is expected to become involved. A director for the special-effects laden show should be named this fall.
“Wall Street.com” is Peter Wolf and Leon de Winter’s updated version of a play by Viennese playwright Johann Nestroy (“Lohengrin”). The story pits greed vs. love among a trio of Wall Street winners.
With its own extensive resources and facilities, productions costs for the shows average about $5 million, although Klausnitzer admits that when VBW’s contributions are figured in, an average $8 million is a more accurate reckoning. “It’s in the usual range of first-class musical productions,” he says.
New Yorkers will have their first opportunity to sample a Viennese-grown musical in November. “Dance of the Vampires,” based on Roman Polanski’s cult film, is due to open on Broadway with Michael Crawford playing the lead role for director John Rando (“Urinetown!”). David Sonnenberg, manager of composer Jim Steinman, licensed the rights from VBW.
The show originally was slated for this spring, but those plans were derailed by the 9/11 attacks. Japanese producers are waiting in the wings, with the Broadway production getting a first bite at the dark musical comedy.