lauantai 7. tammikuuta 2012

Tanz der Vampire - Budapest (2008-)

This is the single musical production that I've seen most times. It has its faults, like occasional technical problems with sets, sounds and the fog machine, but the intensive atmosphere usually makes them up. The cast is great, and the Hungarian dancers are excellent. Vámpírok bálja is my favourite of the standard TdV productions directed by Cornelius Baltus, mainly because the Hungarian actors do so much more than he seems to require.

Kentaur's sets and costumes are beautiful. Not Disney-like, no gingerbread house inns on this stage, but like in a dark and gothic fairytale, and that's pretty much what the musical is for me. On the same time the visual look is also authentic and natural, they've for example added some Hungarian folk dancing into the village choreographies, and Krolock's and Herbert's costumes are made in the Hungarian/Transilvanian style. There's a vast amount of religious symbolism and all kinds of twisted little details on stage. (I saw Kentaur's original costume drafts in an exhibition, and in them there were Empress Elisabeth and Ludwig II among the ball guests. They haven't made it to the stage, but this was just an example about the guy's mind and style. He clearly likes intertextuality in set&costume design.)

Zsanett Andrádi & Géza Egyházi © PS Produkción
For example, the zombies in Carpe noctem are not just random creatures: they are wearing remnants of corsets and tuxedos and manage to look very stylish in a creepy kind of way. Krolock has several different jackets and cloaks, which only makes sense for a nobleman. I especially like the dark red jacket he's wearing "at home", in Totale Finsternis, and the Gier&Tanzsaal cloak with a huge glittery Ankh pattern is stunning.

In general I could say about the cast that if you have heard them on the official recording or seen them in the beginning of the production, they have improved tons after that. The recording tells nothing of what the production is like nowadays. The acting is detailed and well-thought, the singing is splendid and everyone has so much fun on stage that the atmosphere in the theatre can't be described with words. Everyone is natural, funny, relaxed, their acting is full of details and hidden meanings and whatnot and I just don't get bored with watching them.

The Cast

Géza Egyházi - Count von Krolock:  One of my favourite actors in the role. He doesn't even seem to breathe, the voice just comes out of somewhere and almost breaks the theatre's ancient sound systems and brings the balcony down with its power. Yet it can be soft, velvety, tender, seducing. He really thinks about what he sings, and it brings so much emotion into his acting and singing. He practically turns into a vampire for the show. His interpretation works very well for me; he's "my" Krolock, what I imagine the character to be like (at least one version of it).

He's also the first Krolock I've seen who definitely has fun. He is a real gentleman and so on, but he also gets huge kicks of having a cloak and fangs, he keeps grinning at Alfred and the Professor, he's enjoying himself for being the powerful creature who can fool these people and spin them in his web and seduce their girl just like that. This Krolock also enjoys the ball immensely. He may be the respected boss, but somewhere there's also the boy who just likes to dance, interact with guests and have fun. You can easily see where Herbert has gotten his enthusiasm. In "Einladung zum Ball" Krolock comes into the bathroom with this great "Hello, baby, look who's here!" cloak swish, tries to seduce the bathroom door and later in "Vor dem Schloss" has very good chemistry with the sponge. Not to mention the Sarahs. I adore the way he almost kisses Sarah in "Tanzsaal", right before he suddenly lowers his head and bites her instead. Their lips almost touch, and he has this look in his eyes, a bit like "I could do this and I'd like to, but we're the centre of attention now and I'm expected to do this  instead. So wait until the guests are gone, honey."

Géza Egyházi
Gábor Bot
Gábor Bot - Count von Krolock: He plays the role quite rarely, only once or twice during a run. In the beginning I liked him very much, and this review is based on those performances around 2009, but in 2011 he had somehow lost his spark, I couldn't get very much out of him. I love his voice, a tenor that has some very nice baritone-ish softness and warmness in it, and also now he sang well, but with the same tone through the whole musical. He was like a vampire on autopilot. I find it sad, because I used to adore his interpretation.

While he was very, very different from every other Krolock I've ever seen or imagined, his interpretation worked perfectly. Krolock was philosophical, preferred books and theories over practice and was impossible at everything concerning the real life. He was innocent and quite a young vampire and had learned from novels that a vampire count must have a girl in the village to be believable. He had read at least four different "Seduction for Dummies" books and probably carried at least one of them with him so that if something unexpected happened, he could slip into some dark corner to secretly check what he's supposed to do next. If he could, he would have practiced the whole procedure from the invitation to the bite in front of a mirror, but now he had had to ask Herbert if it looks good when he stands like this in the bathroom and then takes three steps left and says this.

His Krolock took himself and the whole seduction business Very Seriously. While Géza!Krolock keeps grinning to every possible direction and seducing inn doors and sponges and girls while being The Gentleman Boss, Gábor!Krolock was deep down inside very insecure, acted very discreetly towards Sarah and never even smiled. And I don't say that as a negative thing, it suited his interpretation perfectly. Géza holds the strings and makes his puppets do exactly what he wants, but Gábor was in fact totally led by Sarah through the whole plot. His Unstillbare Gier was angry, and while he pulled himself together for the ball, the pissed-off desperation immediately rushed back when everything went wrong. Krolock probably went to write bad angsty poetry to his tower for some days after that.

I wouldn't go with Gábor!Krolock, though. He's an incredibly beautiful and aesthetic vampire, quite small and very pleasant to watch, but he's too ethereal and feminine for my taste in men. It was extremely odd to watch the second-best Krolock I had ever seen on stage to that point, enjoy his performance with my every brain cell and not feel any lust for him. It was... educating.

László Sánta & Zsanett Andrádi
Zsanett Andrádi - Sarah:  One of my favourite Sarahs ever. She's quite playful but still knows what she wants and is going to get it. Meanwhile it's okay for her to play with this nice boy as well. Her voice is beautiful though a tiny bit nasal; her long notes could just last and last. She's also pretty in the village girl way, not too doll-like and not "too" beautiful, but realistic and pretty. It's after all quite unlikely that you can find the next Miss Universe in a Transilvanian village.

I've never seen the story exactly as a love story between Sarah and either Alfred or Krolock, and Zsanett's acting works very well with my image. Freedom is most important for her, and while she's interested in both men, she also sees them as a way to get that freedom and is therefore ready to make some sacrifices like losing her life. She definitely knows what she's doing when she lets herself be seduced by Krolock.

Nikolett Kovács - Sarah:  I've only seen Nikolett a couple of times, usually it's Zsanett. I loved Nikolett's acting, she had this ongoing flood of detailed expressions and gestures going on on her. Her Sarah is very flirty and girlish and quite naïve. She's all "Yay there's a cute boy and see what all I can do with my sponge and whoa what a man on my bathtub!" and squees over her new boots and dress. I loved the way she shaked the boots&scarf bundle against her ear to get a sneak peek of what's inside before opening it, a bit like an excited child does with Christmas presents when no one is watching. Mind you, her Sarah still has brains and she can be as determined and mature as anyone. Her voice isn't as strong as I'd hope it to be and she's a bit squeaky, but I can still listen to her without problems.

Dóra Stróbel - Sarah:  She was quite different from what I've used to, but the portrayal was interesting and worked well. Her voice is amazing. I did like her better as Magda, but I have no complaints with her Sarah either, especially if she gets better into the role. I don't know if she had ever played Sarah before, but when I first saw her she was apparently some emergency choice because she wasn't even supposed to be in the production anymore. But she was wonderful, very determined with everything she did, and sometimes it seemed almost like she had planned the whole vampire-bites-me thing just to get outta here. In the end of "Totale Finsternis" she looked for a moment like she'd roll her eyes and press Krolock's teeth on her neck just because men never get on with it and you have to do everything by yourself if you want it done well. You can see she is Rebecca's daughter, I halfway expected her to hit Krolock with a salami. She also looked very believable as the inn daughter, not too strikingly beautiful but a pretty girl, and the change into a confident lady in Tanzsaal was stunning.

Géza Egyházi & Dóra Stróbel
Anna Török - Sarah: I have nothing special to say about her, but I'm getting more and more fond of her Sarah. Anna has a beautiful clear voice, and she's got a nice balance between a young girl and a woman who's determined to get what she wants.

László Sánta - Alfred:  I'm afraid I haven't got much to say about him, except that he simply is Alfred, and nowadays one of my favourite actors in general. He's an excellent comical talent, has great voice and great chemistry with everyone, and I adore him. It's a pity he doesn't play in the production anymore, because he was very very close to the Alfred in my head. His Alfred has the right amount of inner strength when he needs it, but he's not too adult-like. He also wasn't stupid, just young and used to be led by others.

György Mihálka - Alfred:  OMG he's cute! He's around 20, small and adorable, looks like a 16-year-old, has (or used to have) this lovely curly hair that everyone on stage and behind it wants to play with, and he can honestly outsing most other Alfreds out there. My jaw probably dropped the moment when I watched this little thin boy let out one hell of a "Saaaaraaaaah!" in the end of "Für Sarah". Again, a hidden pair of lungs somewhere, and still he doesn't shout, the singing just comes from somewhere. I don't drool over him, even I feel I'm too old to do that legally, but he's purely adorable. And did I mention the voice? This Alfred is very very very innocent and for a moment I feared that Sarah or Herbert would eat him alive, but he somehow manages to survive and find some inner strength when really needed. In the end the change into a vampire is very fascinating, like watching a puppy turn into a Monster Puppy.

Ádám Pásztor - Alfred: Another small, innocent and cute Alfred. Something in his looks bothers me, but he can't help it and his acting and singing are wonderful so I don't complain. I don't know where they keep finding these Alfreds. I saw him in his first performance ever, the premiere of the summer season 2009 where he wasn't originally even supposed to be, and already in that performance he was very good.

Tibor Héger - Alfred:  When I saw Tibor for the first time around 2009, he was awful. Not as bad as Lukas Perman, but at that point I hadn't yet seen Lukas. Tibor did only what was told in the script, and the rest of the time he just stood with a-smiling-deer-in-the-headlights expression on his face. He didn't react to anything the other actors did if it didn't belong to the script, he just was there. I wasn't happy to see his name in the cast list half a year later or so, but to my surprise he had found his inner Alfred and this time he actually could act. Not my favourite Alfred ever, because he's still a tiny bit too heroic for my taste, but he was good. One nice moment that stayed in my mind was Wahrheit, when the professor lectured everyone about the mightiness of logic and Tibor was clearly making mental notes about it and memorizing the professor's words. Still there's something missing in him that doesn't catch my interest, it's like watching a perfectly set robot that does everything right but there's the real personality missing. Many others seem to love him, though, so probably it's some personal chemistry thing.

Dávid Pirgel & Ádám Pásztor
Dávid Pirgel - Herbert: One of my favourite Herberts ever, definitely. Enthusiastic, boyish, flirty and hilarious. Especially I love him in Tanzsaal, he's all bored when daddy is showing off with this new boring girl, plays with the candle while all the fuss about the biting, cleans his nails and rolls his eyes, and then when daddy starts the dance, Herbert goes "SQUEE!" and kidnaps the nearest vampire (who happens to look like Crown Prince Rudolf). Herbert is a bit jealous for Sarah, worried that the girl looks prettier than he does because he should definitely be the queen of the ball. Dávid has excellent chemistry with Géza!Krolock, they're just like father and son and have loads of interaction especially in Tanzsaal. Géza clearly wants the son to watch how things should be really done, preferably with a girl, but on the same time he seems to accept the son's preferences and would gladly give a gift-wrapped Alfred to him to make him happy.

Máté Kamarás - Herbert: Máté was a confusing experience. When I saw him in the cast list for the first time, I fully expected him to be a very manly and playful and confident Herbert who takes Alfred by the hand and drags him into the nearest broom cupboard. Instead I was shown a playful but a very young, innocent and sweet Herbert. I would have never believed that they could make him look and feel so young. In the end of first act he's all "Daddy, you brought me a present! I love you daddy!" and seems genuinely astonished that Alfred doesn't want to be bitten. He's downright insulted when Professor comes and interrupts him, because he never meant any harm, he was just happy and wanted to play this nice boy and daddy daddy the old man took away my candy! This might well be Herbert's first ball, and he's worried that Sarah will steal all the attention. At least once he was actually disgusted when Krolock bit Sarah, either in the "Eww, a girl!" or then "Eww, daddy, get a room!" way. In summer 2009 he seemed to have lost a bit of his spark, but he was still good.

Viktor Posta - Herbert:  He's good, with great acting and all and there's nothing wrong with him, but somehow I'm just not as interested in his Herbert as in the others. He has a bit too masculine features for my liking and the way the character has been directed, though of course he can't help it. I don't complain when I see him on the cast list, though. He's more mature than the other Herberts, but it's not really a problem, just a matter of taste.

Gábor Jenei - Herbert: He's played the role quite little, but he's definitely promising. Quite a masculine Herbert again, but it suits his interpretation. Great voice, and he does nice little twists with it.

Csaba Nagy (Black Vampire)
Csaba Jegercsik and Dávid Sándor - Professor Abronsius: Both equally energetic, hilarious, bouncy and adorable. They do a little dance in Wahrheit, they add loads of improvisation and Alfred/Professor dialogue and weird details in the crypt scene so that every performance is different, and I so wish I could understand Hungarian better. After seeing the concerts in Vienna I thought I'd always miss the genial Gernot Kranner as Professor, but these two are at least as good as he. Nowadays I think I actually prefer them to Gernot. They have amazing chemistry with Alfred, they have quite a fatherly attitude towards him and it's very sweet.

Tímea Kecskés, Éva Sári and Dóra Stróbel - Magda:  Tímea has been in most performances I've seen, and while she is your basic good Magda and has a great voice, she's always similar and after one or two performances you already know what she's going to do or look like next. In comparison with the general detailed Hungarian acting going on around her she's a bit boring, and she's also a bit too fragile to be a Magda I like. I enjoyed Éva Sári's performance more than Tímea's, but she's a bit too innocent for my liking, I think Magda's hard life should be more visible in her performance. Dóra Stróbel is again great, definitely one of my favourite Magdas.

Gábor Attila Farkas - Koukol:  I never believed I could fangirl Koukol, but I do. Because this Koukol has personality, and a sweet personality it is. He has a lot to say, he keeps muttering to himself all the time and it makes me wish I could understand what he says outside the libretto, because judging by the audience's reactions it's something very funny. Koukol also adores Sarah. When Alfred hears Herbert sing in the castle and thinks it's Sarah, we are shortly shown how Koukol helps Sarah to get into her ballgown, and those two seem to have fun with each other and like each other very much. Not in the dirty way, this Koukol could never think that about Sarah. He's a goofy puppy who adores Sarah like his owner, and he's clearly very proud of being allowed to help her look pretty. I wouldn't wonder if he had sewn the ballgown as well. In Tanzsaal he opens the doors to present Sarah, and even then Sarah pats him on head and grins at him before concentrating on vampires. Koukol is simply adorable, not just an ugly mean servant like usually. The same goes for János Balog, though the new interpretation was created by GAF.

Gábor Attila Farkas & Gábor Bot
Béla Pavletits and Gábor Bot - Chagal: Most of the times I've seen Béla. I never thought I'd watch "Eine schöne Tochter ist ein Segen" and not be a bit bored, but again Hungarians managed to surprise me. Suddenly I like the scene, suddenly I like  Chagal! In Hungary he has definitely become an interesting character, and I love the little detail that in the ball he's dressed up as Vlad Tepes. Pavletits is also quite hot, which is confusing in Chagal but by no means unpleasant.
Gábor used to be more like the Chagal in the original movie, he plays the role more rarely and has had occasionally troubles in deciding if he's an old perv or a virile middle-aged man. Later he had suddenly found his inner Chagal, though, and even though his Chagal is quite old, there was this great cabarét-like undertone in his acting and singing, and for example the crypt scene was awesome.

Kinga Csóka-Vasass - Rebecca:  She definitely takes everything out of the role. I'm especially fascinated by the way she hits Chagal and then climbs over  him into her side of bed, hits him again and then curls up to sleep, hugging the salami happily. She's also very sweet and adorable, her last scene brings me to tears.

In short, a good production. Tanz is my favourite musical and I love to see it done well and with feeling.

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