Leesville’s fall production of Dracula, performed November 5-7, exceeded every expectation its audience had. Usually ranked second in quality to the school’s spring musical each year, the fall play left some large shoes to fill come April of 2010.
Dracula’s set construction crew made the entire scenery believable with realistic and eerie details. A favorite of many viewers was the secret passageway that a false bookcase revealed when one of the actors pushed against it. Another were the multiple coffins built to encase the vampires before they were inevitable killed.
As always, a sci-fi production is only as good as its special effects. The lights team did great work using a strobe light and fog machine without making the scenes too cheesy. Instead of ridiculous storm clouds of fog obscuring the entire auditorium’s view of the stage, the techies took a subtle approach, giving just the right amount to appear creepy and maintain the show’s credibility. The backstage hands also exercised their creativity to make a “bat” fly through the audience and onto the stage where it turned into Count Dracula.
The sound crew did notable work in their use of mournful, sinister music to set the mood before the show and in between scenes. They fully achieved their goal of nauseating audience members by blasting violent noises of squishing and gushing every time a vampire was stabbed in the heart.
The cast, though small, accomplished the challenging feat of frightening and humoring the audience at the same time with witty line delivery and convincing emotional expression. Kyle Berryann who played Renfield, the resident lunatic, stood out in everyone’s mind as the most amusing and most talented actor in the production. Berryann stole the audience’s attention in every appearance, from nimbly crawling across furniture with agile grace to using crazed and deranged bug-eyes to uncontrollable twitching.
Bailey Jones, another impressive asset to the cast, played the mysterious and slightly creepy metaphysician Dr. Van Helsing. Jones delivered her long, complicated lines with an air of confidence only found in experienced, capable actors.
The character in which the play is named after, Count Dracula, was played by a terrifying Doro Viano. Though new to Leesville, he made a lasting impression on his audiences through his booming voice and fear-commanding stature on stage.
A talented actor, as anyone knows, never breaks out of character, regardless of the setbacks that occur onstage. A good example of this was on Saturday night, when Mrs. Harker, played by Kristin Taylor, goes into hysterics and falls on to a chair. The chair’s back leg broke on stage in the middle of Taylor’s scene, but, realizing the show must go on, she continued to wail and scream without pause or hesitation.
Though this is the second production of Dracula performed at Leesville, it surprised and amazed audience members at every turn. With high expectations due to the recent vampire craze, the cast and crew stepped up their game for one of the school’s best productions to date.