BWW Review: DRACULA at Zach Theatre
I'm a complete sucker for a good horror story so I was very excited to review DRACULA. When I learned it was a slightly different take on the original I was concerned that it might be hard to follow or too long/too short, until I saw the name Steven Dietz. An outstanding playwright, Dietz's latest incarnation of the classic Dracula character is, well, outstanding.
The entire Topfer theatre is transformed into a huge haunted house replete with all the bells and whistles one expects of such a monstrous production. The set is exquisitely disjointed, unsettling, just downright creepy. As for the play itself, the point of view is delivered perfectly. There is no confusion on who is who, or where we are, or whether it's a flashback. It is crystal clear and the play is the perfect length.
Keith Conteras-McDonald delivers a forceful Count Dracula, the undead mastermind in control of his subjects, his destiny and his story. This is one scary monster and he is ready to conquer the world.
In this incarnation of the story, Mina, often portrayed as a mousy 19th century woman is transformed into a heroine whose love is put to the ultimate test. Sarah Kimberly Becker packs a powerful punch in this incredibly demanding role. Her performance is simply superb.
Kelli Shultz shines as the bored-as-can-be-with-this-tedious-century Lucy. She feels surrounded by boring people, trapped in a time and place in which women have little or no say over the trajectory of their lives. Dietz gives Lucy a great deal of humor with which to illustrate this hellish existence she must endure.
Dr. Seward (Jeff Mills) is a dashing hero with a soft spot in his heart for the recalcitrant Renfield played to absolute perfection by Charlotte Gulezian. In so many versions of Dracula, the actor playing Renfield is more or less forced to ham it up to provide the story with some comic relief. Gulezian doesn't need to do that, it's all there in the script. She takes that literary gold, runs with it, and she is marvelous.
The special effects in the play are wonderfully chilling and along with the incredible set, lights, sound and costumes, Dracula is a bloody feast for the eyes and ears. A scary evening of thought-provoking suspense and horror that will delight audiences for years to come.
I highly recommend this production of DRACULA, through November 3rd at Zach Theatre, tickets are selling out fast, get yours at: zachtheatre.org