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October 26, 2004 > Dracula is in Town

Dracula is in Town

by Venkat Raman

With Halloween approaching fast, we are inevitably drawn to thoughts of ghouls and goblins. This year, we have a special visitor to put us in the mood: Dracula! Broadway West Theatre has just opened its new play about the infamous and charismatic Count Dracula.

As I was settling in the seat, I wondered if this would be the classic, or a different spin on the same characters from the original. A brief glance at the program assured me that I was going to enjoy vintage Dracula. One may be tempted to be lackadaisical about the customary announcements before the start of any play as there is usually nothing new. Pay attention to the announcements here though - you will be glad you did. These perhaps offer the most humor for the evening; the story of Dracula is serious stuff.

The Count of Transylvania has been expertly played by Jeremy Koerner. An ordained minister, Jeremy stakes his claim as an accomplished actor as well. His portrayal of Dracula was superb and he brings the character to life (if that is possible!). His wife in real life, Mary Nitschke, plays the genteel Mina. Hers was an equally poignant depiction of the character.

Jim Woodbury has done an outstanding job of portraying Renfield. The passionate outbursts of Renfield, his stated allegiance to his "master," his feeling of betrayal and the final reward certainly leave a lasting impression.

Ross Arden Harkness has put in an impressive performance as Professor Van Helsing. You see before you a credible professor that has researched the ways of the vampires and is determined and well equipped to vanquish the ultimate vampire.

Jonathan Harker was aptly played by Greg Small. Small was able to bring out the confusion faced by Harker while in the Count's castle in Transylvania. Dawn Cates as Lucy and Ray Medved as Seward offered enjoyable performances as well. The rise of Lucy in immortality was surreal. The play could not be well rounded without the spirited performances of Bob Collier, Siobhan Thompson and Stacey Bell in smaller parts.

The technical aspects of the play were nearly flawless. The lighting was refreshingly on the mark. The sound was generally good; my only problem was that I found myself straining to hear the conversation during a long interchange between Dracula and Harker in the castle in Transylvania.

Director Paula Chenoweth has done a commendable job of reenacting the story of Dracula. The material has been presented tastefully and the horror is more in concept than in gore. The rendition kept the audience too enthralled to react so that the first applause came at the start of the intermission!

Needless to say, this classic Dracula is not for the faint of heart. This would not be suitable for young children. However, if you have a flair for horror movie or drama, this is a definite contender for your attention. This is another Broadway West classic.

Dracula continues at Broadway West Theatre: October 28, 29, 30, 31, November 4, 5, 6, 7, 11, 12, 13, 14, 18, 19, 20. Show times are at 8PM on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, and at 1PM on Sundays except for a special start time of 10:00PM on October 30. Ticket prices are: $20 general admission, $15 Seniors, TBA members, and groups of 10 or more. $15 Thursday evening performances. The location is 4000 B Bay Street, Fremont, CA 94538. Call 510-683-9218 for tickets. Please check for more details.

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