The Joker has left the building!
In 1998, Warner Bros. had been paying attention to the recent successes of their rival Disney putting Beauty and the Beast
and The Lion King
onstage, as well as Andrew Lloyd Webber
's splashy take on Sunset Boulevard
. Clearly movies-into-musicals
were the next big thing, from their POV.
Meanwhile, American rock composer Jim Steinman
's Tanz der Vampire
(itself adapted from The Fearless Vampire Killers
) was busy becoming an instant classic and huge hit in Vienna, Austria, with plans already in negotiation for an eventual transfer to Stuttgart, Germany. Warner looked at Tanz
and its epic, postmodern/Gothic score, and decided to recruit Steinman for one of their potential forays into the theater world...
To helm a musical based on the Goddamn Batman
In hindsight this seems like a blatantly ridiculous idea, but at the time it was taken quite seriously. Tim Burton
was to direct. Ultimately, though, the plans fell through, following the failure of the badly Americanized Tanz
adaptation Dance of the Vampires
(which gained one of the abandoned Bat-songs), and Steinman packed off much of what he'd written to give to Meat Loaf
as standalone pieces when the two reunited for Bat Out of Hell III
However, a dedicated fan has preserved the demos recorded during the show's development. Listen at your own peril here
This show, along with 1966's It's A Bird! It's A Plane! It's Superman!
, rather suggests that the only thing more toxic to a musical (in America, at least- the aforementioned Tanz
is a phenomenon in Europe and Japan, and Dracula: Entre l'Amour et La Mort
did well in Canada) than vampires
is superheroes. (Er, break a leg, Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark
The story as can best be surmised is a combination of Burton's two Batman films
, with the vengeful, brooding Batman protecting the terrified citizens of Gotham from the Joker's murderous antics while also tangling with glamorous kleptomaniac Catwoman. Max Schreck, the Corrupt Corporate Executive
is also present, though in absence of the Penguin's plot from that film it's rather hard to guess where he fits into this adaptation. One of the main changes made to the general Bat-mythos, though, is that it ties Selina Kyle/Catwoman directly into his origin as well as the Joker, who (once again, as in Burton) is here retconned as the petty crook who gunned down Bruce Wayne's parents. Selina also
witnessed the Waynes' deaths, as a frightened orphan child, and was struck by how quickly one can lose everything one has. Batman and Catwoman become full romantic partners as adults based on this common pain, and she ultimately dies in his arms as he tells her that they're "still the children [they] once were".
Demo recordings and other details about the production can be found here
not to be confused with Batboy The Musical
, Holy Musical B@man!
, or Batman Live
This work contains examples of (or rather, would have contained examples of):