BWW Review: DRACULA IS A BLOODY GOOD TIME at Carrollwood Players Theatre
Just in time for Halloween, a sexy, brooding vampire has taken Carrollwood Players Theatre captive. With sound and lighting effects reminiscent of a vintage serial, "Dracula: A Vampire Play," is the story of Count Dracula played with eerie conviction by Michael C de Baca and his three fanged wives (Crystal Marie, Brooke Olivia Wendt, and LaBree Hans).
Directed by Derek Baxter, "Dracula" is set in an hour outside of London in a sanitorium, run by Dr. Quincy (Shane Steele) and overseen by attendant Grimm (Constantine Kyriakou) and Nurse Cassidy (Nicole Payne). The doctor's niece and Mrs. Westenra (Alicia Spiegel's) daughter Lucy (S Regan Borucke), with a scarf wrapped around her neck, is pale and anemic, suffering from an unknown malaise. She is too weak to marry her beloved Arthur Holmwood (Nathan Attard) and he wants answers as to what is afflicting Lucy. At the same time, Mina (Elsie Michelle Mendez) is waiting patiently for Jonathan Harker (William Chamblee) to return home after his letters ceased. Jonathan had been engaged as a solicitor of a property for Transylvanian Count Dracula, who sidelined his return home.
Miss Anya (Laura Gonzalez Hutson) brings a weak Jonathan to Dr. Quincy to return to health. Dr. Van Helsing (Eric Misener) arrives to consult on Lucy's unusual, but not altogether unfamiliar, case. At the same time, a new neighbor has moved into the abandoned property across the way and Lucy falls prey to his hypnotic charms.
First, let me say I would hate to be a patient at this asylum. Constantine's Grimm is one scary orderly. Nor would I enjoy being on the receiving end of Alicia's sarcasm or Eric's look.
"I'm not suggesting it; I am declaring it. Your neighbor is a vampire," Dr. Helsing asks Lucy to remove the scarf to reveal to two perfect puncture marks.
Once the vampirism is revealed, at first the sanitorium doctor dismisses the irrational diagnosis, but is finally swayed by Van Helsing, to agree that vampirism is the only condition that fits Lucy's symptoms.
My favorite scenes are when Michael visits William and Eric and the conversations and actions that follow. When the Count later returns under cover of night, he is amused at Van Helsing's traditional weapons of good versus evil - garlic and wolfsbane- put out in the sanitorium.
The story turns to the men intent on protecting their women and defeating Dracula who plans to make Lucy his bride.
Prize for the best scene stealing goes to the disheveled, tousled-haired Renfield (Brian McCreight), exceptionally cast as the patient who enjoys eating flies and spiders and becomes happily possessed by the evil count.
What happens next is simply bad timing for the pompous Count.
It's a different take on a classic tale, but it's still a bloody good time.