Meet Nissa Nordland who is Performing in Dracula

Lyric Arts had a chance to interview Nissa Nordland, who is performing as Mina Murray in Dracula. Read on to hear what she has to say about her experience thus far. LA: Where are you originally from?

NN: I was born in Austin, Texas. When I was five years old, my family moved to Albert Lea, MN, where I primarily grew up.

LA:  Why did this particular play interest you?

NN:  I have been fascinated by vampires since I was a kid. I used to make up vampire stories with my Barbies, and stare at the watercolor illustrations in my dad’s copy of Dracula. My adoration grew when I was a teen-ager and I began reading Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles (Interview with the Vampire, etc). The story of Dracula is classic, and I was excited by the possibility of being involved in this beloved, supernatural thriller. Plus, it’s fun to be scary!

LA:  For those that are unfamiliar with Dracula can you tell us about the show?

NN: Strange events occur when a mysterious and alluring Count arrives in England. (That’s putting it simply.)

LA: Talk about the character that you play in Dracula.  How have you developed this character?

NN: Mina Murray is a strong, intelligent young school teacher. She’s kind and fiercely loyal, especially to her longtime friend Lucy Westenra and her beloved fiancé Jonathan Harker. She’s sweet, but no push over.

In personifying such an endearing character, I’m focusing on creating as honest relationships as possible with the actors around me. This will both keep her from being a cardboard cut-out heroine, as well as blandly, unbelievably “sweet”. This can be tough task due to the Victorian dialogue. But throughout rehearsals we are working on breaking down the language into true human interaction. Along with the language, I am building the physical behavior of the corseted Victorian woman (posture, posture, posture!), which is a new challenge.

LA: Talk about your fellow cast. How do you see their characters developing? Any that you are particularly amazed at?

NN: My cast mates are having a lot of fun building their characters. Rehearsals are creative and not only fun to be involved in, but to watch. There’s a lot of work in creating such an intense world, and together we’ve had some rehearsals that leave us exhausted both physically and mentally. Of course, there’s a lot of joy in each other’s company as well. I’ve especially enjoyed creating the friendship between myself and Ali Close, who plays Lucy. She’s a talented actress and it’s easy to fall in love with her character. Plus, Benjamin Kolis, Dracula himself, is very hypnotic.

LA: What are some of the most impressive elements of Dracula?

NN: The production itself is filled with intensely detailed designs and many sound, light and prop effects. The coordination of all of these elements in combination with the stage action will be very impressive.  Our stage manager, Marcie Anderson, has quite a task ahead of her.

LA: Why should people come and take a chance and see this version of Draucla?

NN: Our Dracula’s basis is in honest relationships which build into an intensely strange situation. The cast provides drama, suspense, even a few laughs – and through it all you can still relate and believe in the characters’ actions in their world. Plus, the special effects will be a jolt of fun!

LA: Being that you are performing Dracula in the Halloween Capital of the World, what is your favorite thing about Halloween?

NN: Halloween is my absolute favorite holiday! I love that kids are rewarded for being creative, instead of being bullied. My most memorable costume was ‘Juliet After the Suicide’ when I was 8 years old. My dad fashioned a dagger belt for me, caked in dried ketchup, so it looked like I had stabbed myself a la the Shakespearean heroine. I love that being different is embraced on Halloween, and that the childhood spirit can be expressed freely by adults.

LA: Who is your favorite Halloween character (e.g. Frankenstein, Dracula, Werewolf) and why?

NN: I’d have to say the witches from Hocus Pocus. The Sanderson Sisters are funny, dangerous and can harmonize! I loved Sarah, played by Sarah Jessica Parker, especially in the scene where she gathers the children of Salem by her singing on her broomstick. Second favorite is the Great Pumpkin.

LA: Please tell us a little bit about yourself?

NN: I like to act and to write. I’m a big Beatles fan. I am a comic book geek. My favorite color is orange. I enjoy knitting, Shakespeare, board games and playing acoustic guitar. I am also a proud cat mama.