Fear, attraction fuel classic battle of good vs. evil in 'Dracula'

Rehearsal image of Lucy aloof to danger.The SUNY Oswego theatre department’s Oct. 14 to 17 presentation of “Dracula” will tap into the primal fear and attraction of the unknown that has fanned the popularity of vampire plays, movies and books, new and old.

“The story, thanks to Bram Stoker’s blending of folklore and history breathed new life, or maybe I should say fresh blood, into an archetype of seductive, predatory evil,” said Mark Cole, professor of theatre, who will direct the play based on the original John L. Balderston and Hamilton Deane stage adaptation of Stoker’s 19th century novel.

The all-student cast and faculty-student crew will preview the play at 8 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 14. Performances will take place at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Oct. 15 and 16, and 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 17—all in Tyler Hall’s Waterman Theatre.

Cole said this production will mark the third time a play inspired by the classic Stoker novel has had a main-stage presence on campus, including one in the early 1980s and another in the late ‘90s.

“While the novel moves the action from Transylvania to England and back to Transylvania over time, the plot of the Balderston and Deane play—first seen on Broadway in 1927, starring a relatively unknown Hungarian actor, Bela Lugosi—concentrates the action in a relatively short span of time, just about two days,” Cole said.

The sanitarium of Dr. Seward (Nate Roy) provides the backdrop for the mysterious illness of Lucy Seward (Jessica Quindlen). Dr. Van Helsing (Sarah Sterling) arrives, and relies on her devotion to science and interest in the occult to diagnose Lucy as a victim, not of anemia, but of a blood-sucking vampire, the world-weary and perhaps immortal Count Dracula (Samuel Austin).

Others in the cast are Lucy’s fiance, Jonathan Harker (Dylan Duffy), a patient named Renfield (Erik Shuler), a maid and an attendant (Ashlee Grant and Brien Bianchi) and a waif-like character (Ariel Marcus) stage-managing the action.

“In many productions, the role of Dr. Seward is cast as a female, offering another role for an actress,” Cole said. “Our production has a female Dr. Van Helsing, adding a very different tension to the various relationships.”

The faculty crew will feature Tim Baumgartner’s scene and lighting design, costume design by Kitty Macey, sound design by Steve Shull, and Joan Hart Willard as dialect coach.

The student production team includes stage manager Rebeca Schretzlmeir, assistant director Todd Backus, assistant stage managers Melanie Tarrant and Daniel Distasio, dramaturg Sarah Sterling and assistant dramaturg Kimberly Greenawalt.

The production is suggested for ages 12 and older.

Preview tickets are $5. Tickets for the three remaining performances are $15 for the general public, $12 for seniors, non-SUNY Oswego students and for college faculty and staff, and $7 for SUNY Oswego students.  To purchase tickets, visit any SUNY Oswego box office, http://tickets.oswego.edu or call Tyler Hall Box Office at 312-2141.

Parking in campus lots is free on weekends and evenings. Patrons with disabilities should call the box office manager at 312-2141.

PHOTO CAPTION: Dracula’s minion—In the SUNY Oswego theatre department’s production of “Dracula,” Renfield (Erik Shuler), who is in thrall to the evil vampire, lunges at Lucy Seward (Jessica Quindlen), who coolly stands her ground. Sanitarium owner Dr. Seward (Nate Roy), left, and Lucy’s fiance, Jonathan Harker (Dylan Duffy), restrain Renfield. The play, based on Bram Stoker’s novel and the original Broadway play, will run Oct. 14 to 17 in Tyler Hall’s Waterman Theatre.

(Posted: Sep 28, 2010)