Steve Barton is best known today for originating the role of Raoul in Phantom of the Opera, but while he was by no means anything less than excellent in that role (and, indeed, is still probably the best Raoul of all time), his greatest triumph came when he played Count von Krolock in the German musical Tanz der Vampire. Barton sang the role in a deep, resonant baritone rather than the tenor he had displayed in Phantom, and some of his low notes (particularly in the song “Gott Ist Tot”) send chills down the spine. He played the character with an incredibly degree of depth and subtlety…when Krolock philosophizes about ‘the pleasures of sadness’, Barton really makes you feel what he means. To be honest, I’m not sure any other actor has ever so convincingly captured the impression of a centuries-old world-weary immortal. He also made his big second-act soliloquy (known in the English version as “Confession of a Vampire”) into one of the most wrenching cries of pain in all of musical theater. He could cry out in anguish with the best of them, but he played much of the role in an exquisitely soft murmur that manages to make this bloodthirsty killer almost painfully sympathetic as well as achingly erotic…like the Phantom, most of the women in the audience would have loved to be captured by this supposed villain. Barton was meant to go on to star in the show’s Broadway production, and even cut some English-language demos, but his tragic suicide in 2001 not only robbed the world of one of its greatest theatrical talents, but was probably a key factor in the notorious derailment of the Broadway Dance of the Vampires.