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    Review: ATL's Dracula is Frightfully Fun
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    Twenty years.

    That’s how long "Dracula" has been frightening audiences in Louisville.

    Yet despite its long and storied run, fans keep returning to Actors Theatre to be scared out of their seats, to be frightened by unexpected shocks and to be disconcerted by unnerving characters.

    And after two decades to polish the act, Actors has scaring down to an art.

    The familiar story of Dracula, vampire extraordinaire, comes to light in this twist on the literary novel by Bram Stoker, adapted from Balderston and Deane’s theatrical version by ATL resident company member William McNulty.

    The production starts off disturbing, and never relents.

    Van Helsing (the multi-talented McNulty, who also directed the production) has journeyed to Dr. Seward’s sanatorium in England, in an effort to root out the origins of an odd occurrence, whereby several young women have taken ill with mysterious symptoms. One of those women, Dr. Seward’s wife, has since died from the ailment that now threatens to take the life of Lucy, Seward’s friend, as well.

    In the anxiety-laden atmosphere that follows, it is a race against time—and the supernatural—to try to save Lucy (Shannon Marie Sullivan), and the many others who are falling prey to the vicious ailment.

    The onset of the illness, oddly enough, coincides with the arrival of Count Dracula (newcomer Dylan Chalfy) who exudes a powerful sensuality and mysteriousness that captivates the women, and intrigues the men.

    Lest one think it’s not possible to make a live theatre production scary, be reassured that it is. With the integration of a haunting original musical score, well-placed (and loud) sound effects, and effective lighting, the technical elements of the production put the cap on the deliciously uncomfortable direction, filled with well-placed pregnant pauses and enough surprises to keep even the most unwilling theatregoer captivated.

    As in any production, a sound ensemble is paramount to success, and this year’s "Dracula cast" is no exception. But in keeping with tradition, it is Renfield, played for the eighth time this year by Marc Bovino, who captures the heart of the audience. His witty and intelligent portrayal of the resident loony, along with the incredible physicality he lends Renfield, makes him the most complex and fascinating character to watch.

    For twenty years, "Dracula" has been a fall favorite for the Louisville community. This year’s production is an eerie reminder of why.

    "Dracula" continues at Actors Theatre through November 1. Dates and times, as well as ticket information, can be found online. Tickets may be purchased through the Actors Theatre website or by calling the box office at 502.584.1205.

    Image: Courtesy of B. Brymer/Actors Theatre

    Michelle Rynbrandt's picture

    About Michelle Rynbrandt

    Before landing in the Possibility City, Michelle toured the country performing in various regional theatres. Having been there and done that, she can honestly say that Louisville's cultural opportunities are second to none.

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