BWW Review: DRACULA by InterAct Theatre Productions at The Baird Theatre
InterACT Theatre Productions presents Bram Stoker's "Dracula," adapted by Steven Dietz. Dietz's adaptation of Stoker's famous story, gives life to the novel onstage. The lives of London residents are frighteningly disturbed when some of them fall mysteriously ill all in the same fashion. Appearances of Count Dracula finally give the residents some sense as to what is happening around them. When it is realized that the victims, such as Lucy Westenra, have been in contact with the Count himself, Westenra's best friend Mina Murray, Jonathan Harker, fiancé Dr. John Seward and Professor Van Helsing team up to put an end to his horrific nightly outings.
Once again, Director and Set Designer Nicholas J. Clarey amazes us all with his brilliant design. The audience was seated in a horseshoe shape allowing the action to happen all around us and even right next to us! A fireplace that turned into a set of stairs that Dracula enters from, a centered multi-level stage acted as a bedroom, an insane asylum, a dining room, etc., a life size wooden coffin rose up from the floor and scenic bedroom window panes lowered at one point, turning into a tomb for Lucy Westenra. With each of Clarey's productions, I am always left wondering 'How does he come up with these ideas?' Along with the set design, there is much to be said about the lighting, which we can thank Zach Pizza for. The hanging candelabras added to the spooky ambiance of the show. There was even special lighting for the Vixens' entrances and bolts of lightning throughout the show. Who can have a show about a blood sucking vampire without some blood splatter? Not this production, they had a decent amount that made you cringe in the most appropriate way.
This production has two Draculas; Caitlyn M. Roper and Miguel Vega. Roper and Vega take turns playing the role at certain performances. I was fortunate to have witnessed Roper's Dracula. She commanded the stage each time she appeared just as her Dracula had entranced her victims; you were brought in by her mysterious charm and then frightened by her horrific actions. Charles Kennedy who portrayed Renfield, brought the character to life by making certain physical and vocal choices that made him the creepiest in the cast, which is exactly what we need to see for this role. I commend his actions and high energy needed to make us believe in his Renfield. Gloria Bangiola and Tiffany Faulkner portrayed the two best friends Mina Murray and Lucy Westenra respectively. The two women had a beautiful chemistry together. They were both able to portray innocent victims but make no mistake, they were also able to make bold transitions when the script called for it. Joseph Rothschild and Anthony Notarile, Dr. John Seward and Jonathan Harker respectively, were both strong in their roles as they band together to fight the monster wreaking havoc on their loved ones. Rothschild brings humor to Dr. John Seward in the appropriate moments while Notarile portrays Harker as a haunted man, tormented by the things he had seen while working for the Count. The group is led by Professor Van Helsing, played by Maryann Galife. Galife's Van Helsing gives the audience a sense of hope when it comes to fighting The Count as she knows more than the others do. She leads the charge and it is apparent to us all that she is the backbone of the group. The way she speaks, regarding manner of tone and volume and the way she carries herself in each scene, Galife delivers a strong Van Helsing; someone we would all want on our team. Several cast members portrayed inmates in Dr. John Seward's asylum. Each time they stepped onstage and started acting irrationally, it felt as though you were sitting in a haunted house, waiting for one of them to jump out at you, giving you goosebumps as they crept around in an odd manner and even climbed the walls.
The cast includes Charles Kennedy (Renfield), Caitlyn M. Roper (Dracula at certain performances/Waiter/Inmate), Miguel Vega (Dracula at certain performances/Waiter/Inmate), Kenneth Laboy Vasquez (Attendant/Inmate/Vixen), Levil Shawn DaCosta (Inmate/Vixen), Brianna Rivera (Inmate/Vixen), David Wren-Hardin (Attendant), Robert MacLachlan (Attendant), Gloria Bangiola (Mina Murray), Tiffany Faulkner (Lucy Westenra), Anthony Notarile (Jonathan Harker), Sabrina Santoro (Maid/Vixen), Joseph Rothschild (Dr. John Seward) and Maryann Galife Post (Professor Van Helsing).
This production staff that made this show possible includes Director and Set Designer Nicholas J. Clarey, Musical Engineer Jeff Ladd, Sound Design adapted by Scott W. Edwards, Stage Manager Felicity D. Selby, Costume Designer Lynne Lewis, Assistant Costume Designers Marlo Avidon and Maryann Galife Post, House Manager Dawilla Madsen, Lighting Designer Zach Pizza, Properties by Yolanda Hamilton, Lisa Dascoli and Jackie Saunier, Mehanical Construction by Holland J. Jancaitis, Vixen Choreography by Dana P. Hawkins, Dracula and Renfield Makeup Artist Stephen Soto-Rivera, Publicity and Social Media Producer Sabrina Santoro, Assistant Publicity and Social Media Producer Mark J. Parker, Lightboard Operator Felicity Winter, Sound Operator Molly Polk, Crew Members Julia Vitale, Jerry Narciso and Emanuel Santos, Production Photographer Paula Roper and Company Photographer Greg Clements.
You have 5 more opportunities to see this production! October 19th-21st, 26th & 27th. Friday and Saturday performances are at 7:30 PM and Sunday performances are at 4:00 PM.
Running time: 2 hours and 20 minutes (Including a 15-minute intermission).
Location: 5 Mead Street South Orange, New Jersey
Tickets are on sale now. Online: $18-$23 for Adults, $15-$20 for Students (Under 18 or w/ College ID)/Seniors (60+), tickets bought at the door are $25. Due to the nature of the story and the gruesome effects, this show is not suitable for children. For more information, visit http://www.interactproductions.org/ or call 973-544-8489.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Interact Productions