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Theatre / Batman: The Musical

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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). It has since become one of the more infamous examples of What Could Have Been in both the musical and Batman communities.

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 from Returns 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.

Definitely 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):