By Roxy Orcutt
The story of Dracula can be easily bogged down. Bogged down by theme, unnecessary characters, Victorian repression and the possibility of getting swept up into the moodiness of the Carpathian mountains. The people behind the Lyric Arts production of Dracula realized this and gave us exactly what we needed. A lovely and vulnerable Mina, a bawdy and fun Lucy, a logical and straightforward Dr. Seward, a confused and protective Harker, a strong and superstitious Van Helsing, a manic and crazy Renfield, and a sleek and scary Dracula. Along with staging that made incredibly good use of the limited space, shadows, smoke, and audio effects that could have easily leaned towards Halloween-ish but managed to avoid that for the most part. This story of the terrifying undead Count and the people tasked with destroying him was everything and exactly what it needed to be.
Lyric Arts production of Dracula was not only appropriately frighting (the row of women sitting next to me gasped and giggling nervously when Dracula emerged from his coffin for the first time) it was also funny, which helped it avoid being a too serious show for people looking for a fun night of theater. Yes, there was blood, it is a show about vampires after all, but it wasn't ever used unnecessarily, and with the enthusiasm that it was lapped up by Dracula's Brides, you couldn't help but enjoy its presence.
I enjoyed the somewhat Steampunk influences I noticed in the costuming and props. Mina, in particular was costumed beautifully. I coveted her black satin skit she wore towards the end of the show, as well as her travel worn coat she donned to retrieve Harker from Budapest.
As for the vampires, creatures that always runs the risk of coming off as cheesy or silly, were done perfectly. The fangs the vampire actors wore were some of the best I have ever seen. Especially the ones Dracula was wearing since he not only had his fair share of dialogue, he also had an accent, and seemed to speak with ease around his fangs. The lighting effects, especially during a pivotal character's transformation was done with undertones of green and red, making it frighting and dramatic.
One of my favorite things about this production was the narrative in which the story was told. In the book Dracula, the story is told through letters, as is in this production, but in the book it is told linear. This Dracula was told with flashbacks intertwined with present happenings, which I thought was very creatively done.
The stage design to tell this story that travels across seas and mountains, takes place in grand homes of London, an insane asylum, cemeteries and a castle in Transylvania, was done so impressively and smart. Containing only one set change from Act One to Act Two.
Despite the occasional audio effect drowning out the dialogue, this Dracula was spooky fun and perfect for getting into the classic Halloween spirit!
A little bit about Roxy Orcutt: Roxy Orcutt, a self-professed “Professional Halloween Lover” lives in Anoka with her husband, children and various pets, including a black cat, of course. Roxy runs the website The Halloween Honey, a year-round destination for all things Halloween. www.halloweenhoney.com.