Jeff Messer and Andrew Gall's adaptation of Bram Stoker's masterful novel whisks you away on a geographical merry-go-round to Transylvania on the edge of the Carpathian Mountains to the shores of Victorian Whitby in England with stops in-between and back. It all translates into a set of constantly changing scenes throughout the play and a huge challenge for its director and company to improvise a seamless flow of events in a limited space. For JC Conway and Chris Skipper, the limited space was the stage of the James F. Dean Theatre.
I can convincingly state overall(despite some slower moving elements)the challenge was adequately executed on opening night with the assistance of stage manager, Nicole Wallace, and crew. The table that doubled for a ship's wheel and Dr. Seward's desk at the asylum and the five different entrance and exit points that gave Dracula mobility were a clever use of area and props, including the wooden crate center stage used for Dracula's coffin(a touch more detail in this prop would have elevated its realism).
The numerous rotating light cues will help you follow the scene changes as well as set the mood. The incorporation of the two cello players(Abby Maynard and Chris Anderson) located on each side of the stage added a sorrowful, soulful ambiance to the theaters atmosphere during transitions. The prerecorded dialogue was somewhat muffled at times, so you will need to pay attention more intently during those moments.
For a play of this nature to be successfully portrayed with a setting unfolding in the late 1800's and characters physically changing in appearance, realistic costumes and artful make-up are vital. Costume designer and whig maker, Diana Reeves and Mary Miller, did a superb job with the nearly 200 different pieces worn by the 25 cast members while Hana Ryll, Jean Gaston, and Eddie Hall provided the special effects make-up notably worn by Andrew Turnball as Renfield and Kate Berry, Megan Fife, and Michelle Smith as the seductive three brides of Dracula.
A well deserved applause goes out to the entire cast for making it all work with notable performances by Lindsey Marie as vivacious, young Lucy Westenra; Dracula's first love interest in England, Julie Hammond as the more reserved Mina Murray; engaged to Jonathan Harker and Dracula's second seduction, Zach Smith as the journal writing, often traumatized Jonathan Harker, Chris Miller as the eloquent and ambitious asylum administrator Dr. Seward, and Ian Bonner as the alluring, blood-thirsty and love-starved Dracula. Ion's standout moment was when he slowly rose from his lifeless slumber in the climactic encounter with Dr. Van Helsing(Fred Hutter) and company. Edwin Hall as Authur Holmwood owned the funniest moment with his improv during a costume mishap.
The Flowertown Players presentation of the iconic "Dracula" will keep your interest from the moment the lights darken to the encore. Congratulations to the cast and crew for another successful opening night. To purchase tickets for remaining performances running to November 9th, go to "Dracula" or call (843) 875-9251.