BWW Reviews: DCTC's 'Bram Stoker's Dracula'
Tis the season for ghosts, goblins, werewolves and vampires to appear. Down at the Denver Center the king of them all makes an appearance. Now showing at the Stage Theater is "Bram Stoker's Dracula". This production follows the original novel adapted by Charles Morey. It beautiful to look at and creates an air of suspense. Running time is two hours and forty-four minutes with an intermission.
Act one slowly pulls you into the story as it unfolds along with narration directed to the audience. We see just enough of the title character to heighten your anticipation for what you hope to come in act two. By the end of act one I realized that I had been sitting with my breath held for at least a half an hour. It was that good. But then came the second act. I am hoping that that it was just an off night but it seemed to unravel. Dan Kremer as Abraham Van Helsing returned to the stage a bit distracted. Since the hunt for Dracula is a big part of Act 2, Van Helsing was sharing center stage but Mr. Kremer just seemed to stumble through most of his scenes. When we arrived at the big confrontation scene with Van Helsing, his group and Dracula I expected there to be fireworks. (There was a flaming cross) Anthony Marble as the title character snarled and grunted through the scene but not effectively enough to make us fear Dracula. He was also pre-occupied with his hair in that he kept pushing it behind his ear. A scene that should have been powerful and even a bit frightening didn't even rise to the level of melodrama. But we still had that final scene to look forward to which was also a bit of a letdown. It all happened so fast without the drama you might expect. If you blinked, you might have missed it. One indication that things took a turn was the laughter from the audience when Jonathan Harker, played by Harry Carnahan, runs to Mina after being bitten by Dracula. This was not meant to be a funny moment. Hopefully Director Gavin Cameron-Webb tightens the second act up if he is still in town.
All was not lost though. The show is blessed with a wonderful supporting cast, most notably Margaret Loesser Robinson as Mina Murray Harker. Ms. Robinson owned the second act and saved it. Her transformation from a giddy young lady engaged to be married to the woman with a bond to Dracula was wonderful to watch as were her scenes with Sofia Jean Gomez as Lucy Westenra. Another performance, that brought some levity to the evening, was Michael McKenzie with a spot on portrayal of R.M. Renfield. His Renfield was crazy but maybe not as crazy as people thought he was.
I applaud the Denver Center Theatre Company for choosing to present the original story. I would have seen this even if it wasn't during the Halloween season. And that may also be another problem. This show is not really for younger audiences although I had a group of very chatty teen boys sitting behind me who fell silent ten minutes into the show but chatted throughout the second act. Perhaps, even though it isn't true to the original, the DCTC might have gone with the 1977 Production seen on Broadway with Frank Langella, which I saw twice. It may have been a bit more crowd pleasing and sometimes that's what you have to go for.
Greg is very happy to be reporting from Denver on Broadway World!