Theater review: ‘Dracula’ a bloody good show

Immortality: by any means necessary.

Immortality: by any means necessary.

Count Dracula (Randy McConnach) has his own method, and it’s not a very pretty one. But you know that already. That’s why you have come to the theater — to watch him seduce the lovely-necked Lucy (Jennifer Lefsyk) and Mina (Meigg Jupin); to see this black-caped vampire strike fear into the hearts of God-fearing Brits, like Mina’s lover, Jonathan Harker (Keith Coombs), Dr. Van Helsing (Rocky Bonsal) and Dr. Seward (Theodore Carbone); and to squirm as a quartet of Vixens and a madman, Renfield (Mark Todaro), dabble in blood.

And you will see all of this in Schenectady Civic’s visually stunning production of the Bram Stoker story, adapted by Steven Dietz, and directed by Jeffrey Scott.


WHERE: Schenectady Civic Players, 12 S. Church St.

WHEN: Through Oct. 25


MORE INFO: 382-2081

Scott, his assistant directors Elise Charlebois and Brandon Hunt, and producer Mark Stephens have created a totally spooky world with strobe lights, fog machines and pyrotechnics, one into which we’re plunged from the start.

Spotlights. Dim lighting. Plumes of red mist. The opening tableau is haunting, and the early scene with Mina and Lucy already bespeaks contamination.

The actors — handsomely dressed by Marcia Thomas and Joseph Fava — and crew work flawlessly to make each scene flow seamlessly into the next. We have no trouble shifting from Transylvania to London to an asylum to a bedroom. And the constant use of moody music — the “Moonlight” Sonata, Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1, and, if I am not mistaken, a little Khachaturian — underscores the misery.

Scott has elicited believable British accents from his cast members, each of whom satisfactorily contributes to the production as a whole. As a quartet of Vixens, Lita Benson, Amanda Charlebois, Kaylynn Lawson, and Alaaldeen Shehadeh appear just when you least expect them — and certainly don’t want them — and their downstage cannibalism is amusingly creepy. Todaro will, perhaps, remind you of Hannibal Lecter, which is OK. Coombs credibly captures Harker’s slide from ordinary real estate agent to rattled young swain, and Carbone is appropriately contrary when Seward and Van Helsing, his former teacher, disagree about what to do next. Jupin and Lefsyk excel as charming young women who suddenly find themselves in a mystery beyond their comprehension, and Lefsyk is deliciously (sorry) scary after Dracula’s transformative bite.

Bonsal — with a believable German accent, by the way — carries most of Act II as the brainy doctor with imagination and compassion. It’s good to have Bonsal back at SCP. McConnach is properly unctuous, seductive, and authoritative. When Dracula points, you hop to! When Dracula speaks, you sit up straight! Unless, of course, you have some garlic or a cross handy.

Just as the cinema has benefited from digital enhancement techniques, so, too, does this hoary story benefit from these wondrous special effects. SCP’s “Dracula” is a technical tour de force.

Categories: Entertainment, News

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