Sunday, March 07, 2010

Dracula – a Broadway Musical

flyerWe went to see the Vitolo Production of this last night and a good night was had. But I am going to split my more critical thoughts into two areas. 1. the general show as an entity and 2. the actual production we saw last night.

When it comes to the musical as an artform, I find it difficult to comment. I have seen the odd filmed musical but generally it is not a medium I would go for. As such I find it hard to comment about the music – it tends to not be the style I particularly listen to, though performed live (and with skill) is always going to be a different experience than listening to it as a piece of music on CD. The libretto – if we can call the lyrics that – often seem strange to me, and did with this in places, much more of a dialogue than lyric it breaches the boundaries of normal song writing – but enough on that, I am far from expert.

What I am more of an expert in, in an amateur sense, is vampire lore. Dracula, of course, has been much abused and (to be honest) sometimes enhanced by the visions and conceits of authors and filmmakers/playwrights. In this case the story took, very much, the Dan Curtis model – though not a story of a resurrected lover but rather one of a fated love between Mina (Mairi-Clair Connor) and Dracula (Andy Vitolo).

This brought two things to mind. Firstly, generally, in the fated/resurrected love adaptation we could ask why – having discovered his love – Dracula would then attack (and ravage) Lucy (Lucy Fellows)? It seems a tad perverse. However, that aside, this version of the story did have an underlying logic problem. You see it is Mina who invites Dracula to her. His approach and their blood swapping moment is entirely enabled by her and yet she then actively helps the heroes, for instance making the suggestion of using hypnosis to help them catch the vampire. This would seem at odds with a woman who has discovered she loves the quarry, perhaps she was being duplicitous but it just sat a tad awkwardly as I watched. This would seem to be a generic problem with the story concept within the script as written, rather than any specific production thereof.

taken from 'Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens' - kino restorationOne thing I found of interest was the wedding scene. We see Mina and Jonathon (Jeremy Clark), in the convent hospital, on one part of the stage and then we see Arthur (Derek Winward) and Lucy’s wedding centre stage. Dracula appears also and grasps across the stage causing Lucy to fall (into her sickness). Interesting, that she actually married Arthur in this and, more, the grasp (as it were) reminded me of Nosferatu and the scene where Ellen’s heart is grasped by the shadow of the vampire.

For this production I can say that the audience as a whole seemed to enjoy the show. I had a little trouble suspending belief in respect of Van Helsing as Michael Cosgrove seemed too young for the role of the mentor and teacher of Jack Seward (Phil Gwilliam). Cosgrove also played Quincey, and so we had the strange incongruity that Quincy appears as a suitor but then vanishes from story once Lucy falls ill. There is, of course, a good chance that a casual watcher would not have realised but for those versed in the story…

the three brides, a rehearsal pictureHowever I have to give applause to Andy Vitolo (who was the artistic director as well) as Dracula. He brought a dark menace to the role and was an imposing stage figure. Mairi-Claire Connor had a superb voice and was excellent as Mina but special kudos goes to Zoe-Denise Smith, Kay J Traford and Gemma Palmer – who played the vampire brides. The brides played a much larger role than normal, doubling as a chorus plus adding a dramatis into scenes (almost as the essence of vampirism). The three of them actually made the show, for me at least.


Zahir Blue said...

Sounds fun enough. I do enjoy musicals and have listened to some songs from the purported DRACULA musical that was on Broadway. I wasn't displeased, but neither was I impressed.

Taliesin_ttlg said...

Probably the same one, I can't really make a comment on the quality of the songwriting as it isn't my normal thing - but these things are always better performed live and it was an enjoyable evening.

Christine said...

Sounds fun to me too, I´m enjoying both musicals and story of Dracula. Hm, this needs googling...

Taliesin_ttlg said...

best of luck with that Christine, I hope you find something that suggests it'll be on close to where you are.

jackie said...!/event.php?eid=470913390245&ref=mf

if anyone is interested we will be doing the vitolo production of dracula again at the lancaster grand theatre in september. :)