October 25-28, the Lone Star College-Kingwood Visual and Performing Arts Theater Program has produced the first show of the 2017 Fall semester. The play “Dracula” was a rousing success. First published in 1897, Bram Stoker’s “Dracula” paved the way for the gothic vampire to take a permanent place in the entertainment industry. Stoker’s inspiration for the infamous Count Dracula was the Romanian tyrant Vlad Tepes or better known as, Vlad the Impaler. With an estimate of over 100,000 kills, Vlad’s favorite method of execution was impalement. However, the vampire is an entity truly romanticized by our culture from “Nosferatu” to “True Blood.” Having been adapted into film, musical, and television countless times, Dracula has lasted the test of time proving the Count to be a truly immortal figure.
Although the original cast divide of four males to just two females, Director Kalliope Vlahos adopted to an even split of three actors and three actresses for this play. Placing the roles of Van Helsing and Renfield in a more feminine persuasion. This however, did not take an iota away from the commanding tone in Ashlee Lopez’s portrayal of Van Helsing. “I can do nothing here if I am not master.” I must say was the most memorable line delivered by the good Dr Van Helsing.
Because every heroine deserves a good villain, enter John Wayne Tingley as the Dracula himself. Tingley gave an excellent performance fitting the character of Count Vlad with his accent and his evil laugh to-a-Tt. Even while moving around the room to stand at their backs, the audience didn’t miss a word of Dracula’s chilling promise to keep himself and his new bride from the clutches of Van Helsing, Dr.Seward played by Bruce Arrick, and Jonathan Harker played by Preston Hendrix.
The lovely bride to be Lucy, was taken on by Katelynn Bauer who did a lovely job portraying her. It was wonderful watching her change from a weak, meak, washed out woman in a white diving bell gown in acts one and two to the brazenly wicked seductress that we see in act three while still managing to convey the internal conflict that is tearing her apart.
Although, what is a good scary story with a little comedic relief? Coming in the shape of one hypnotised maid Miss Wells rendered by Rebecca Bagwell, and one incompetent orderly Buttersworth portrayed by Dallas Nunez. When committing to a movie, book, play, or musical it can be easy to forget there are other people in the story and a whole world of them at that. These two helped bring that perspective in that even if Dracula could not be stopped here, the opportunity to fight was not lost for eternity. Being reminded that the fantasy situation is just hypothetical is something the audience needs in a successful form of entertainment.
Another necessary element of the evening I must say was the stage setting and decoration. The theater was beautifully gothic. You can see the time it must have taken to hang and position not only the large furniture on stage, but the surrounding cobwebs, skulls, rats, dust, webbing, and battery powered candles. Not only the preset elements, but the lighting and sound from off stage made the mood. The cast and crew clearly worked overtime on this production and I applaud them for it.The attention to detail made the perfectionist in me sing and the understanding of resources available made me inspired. Even with limited material, numerous environmental adaptations, and only 17 rehearsals under their belt, the cast took the borrowed stage and made it their own for the night.
If this is what they can accomplish with so little, I can’t wait to see them back in full swing. Go to www.lonestar.edu/seasons for information about the Christmas Cabaret coming this December 7, 8, and 9 @ 7:30 pm.