Gallery Players’
“Dracula:” an interesting take on an old tale

Linda Marie Berning
Guest Columnist - Bloomington Sun Current

Dracula lives! At least he does this October at the Bloomington Art Center’s Schneider Theatre, where the Gallery Players’ production of “Dracula: The Case of the Silver Scream” is onstage through Oct. 31.

This timeless tale frequently revived, has an interesting setting, albeit “Hollywood,” film noir, and a bit of detective a la Sam Spade.

It’s 1948 and the ancient vampire has fled to California and taken up residence next door to an old insane asylum – the very place that a horror movie is being filmed. Can Detective Van Helsing stop his old nemesis before he turns the leading lady into his unholy bride?

The finely tuned production opens dimly lit with Detective Van Helsing’s (Nathan Shores) shadowed face, telling his own sad story accompanied by jazzy saxophone.

This is a play within a play and the detective tells a story within a story. He says of Lucy, “One look at this dame and I knew she was trouble.”

The sound effects, including soft jazz percussion between scenes, hissing dry ice, howling wolves, blood curdling screams, and the shouts of lunatics in the sanitarium help the audience step into the drama.

The lighting perfectly reflects the mood, red for the presence of Dracula, low for the story telling detective and aqua/green in the eerie morgue.

Jon Stentz, (Renfield) commands attention every time he’s on stage. His white powdered head, schizophrenic mannerisms and excellent acting make a believable and humorous character. Director Dohn Thibault keeps the production moving with smooth scene transitions and shifts between the quasi-play, the detective narrative and the real drama at hand. There are three major sets: The sanitarium, the garden and the morgue. All are well done with paneled wood doors, arches, staircases, pillars and garden walls. But wait a minute, we’re talking about “Dracula,” and we haven’t, yet. Christopher J. DeVaan, in his debut performance as Dracula, is convincingly scary. He has black slick hair, a deep voice with a convincing accent, he’s handsome, he has power over everyone and he never loses character.

He utters, “Come to me, my child of darkness,” and “When the sun sets tomorrow, Lucy will be mine.” Dracula moves slowly with a tour de force stage presence.

Lucy, played by Katy Korchik, portrays a cigarette smoking “dame” in the detective’s office and an alluring bride of the Count. She looks spectacular in dreamy white satin lingerie, and an embroidered lace gown, to name two of the stunning costumes put together by Cindy Forsgren.

Don’t miss this production of Dracula: Trick and treating could never be this entertaining!

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