January 03, 2003 at 05:00 AM EST
We gave it a C

”God has left the building!” booms an offstage voice, and Dance plunges into the abyss with a giant ”spoof!” (just in case the caped ushers and bat-themed Mercedes ads in the lobby weren’t enough of a clue-in). Yes, it’s a joke, and its punchline is erstwhile Phantom of the Opera Michael Crawford as Count von Krolock, an undead Casanova with an inexplicable thatza-spicy-meat-a-ball accent. Unfortunately, that punchline arrives in Scene 1. What follows is two hours of Moron Rouge, a karaoke casserole of cheap gags, papier-mache sets, and halfhearted pop-song references. (Composer Jim Steinman tries to skip a step to instant camp, draining dry his ’80s hit ”Total Eclipse of the Heart” and tossing in a few Meatloaf references for bad measure.) By the time the vampires really start sucking — sorry, dancing — a stiff self-consciousness has set in: It’s like watching ”Thriller” performed by the cast of The Lawrence Welk Show.

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