Fifth Third Bank’s Dracula is an action-packed Halloween treat not to miss this season!
Debuting the weekend of September 7th and running through October 31, Actors Theatre of Louisville, KY presents the 24th consecutive seasonal production of Bram Stoker’s “Dracula”, based on the theatrical version of Stoker’s novel by John L. Balderston and Hamilton Deane. Now a nostalgic Louisville Halloween tradition, “Dracula” is Actors’ second-longest running annual production next to “A Christmas Carol”.
This year, however, sees some new blood brought to the cast and crew and a whole new level of adrenaline-charged pacing, effective scares and theatrical action choreography. There’s a new Transylvanian Count, a new director and a new bag of technical tricks brought to the Bingham Theatre in downtown Louisville, KY.
A seven-season veteran director of Actors’ other popular seasonal production, “A Christmas Carol”, director Drew Fracher takes the reins of this year’s production from longtime director, William McNulty. Fracher is also a fight master and member of the Society of American Fight Directors where he has choreographed fight scenes and theatrical violence in over 50 theaters across the country. In coordination with Fight Director, Jake Guinn, this production boasts what is probably the most athletic and physically combative version of this beloved vampire thriller in Actors’ history. The undead spring stealthily across the crumbling bricks surrounding the stage and leap from dark corners to attack their unsuspecting victims. Fracher and Guinn arguably deliver the most complex and raucous climactic battle royal in the production’s 24 season history as the cast’s vampire hunters take on a legion of hissing undead in the bowels of Dracula’s crypt.
The King of Vampires is played this year by Santino Craven, making his Actors Theatre debut in the leathery black cape. Craven brings a brusque, rugged physicality to the role that silences any doubt that this Transylvanian noble could’ve once been a formidable ruler whose savage tactics earned him the surname The Impaler. For fans of vampire film history, let me phrase it this way: Craven’s Dracula is much closer to Jack Palance’s physically imposing warlord in the Dan Curtis produced 1974 TV movie version of “Dracula” than Frank Langella’s suave, blow-dried Latin lover interpretation of the character in John Badham’s 1979 big budget theatrical feature. Hungarian accent aside, Craven is more Christopher Lee than Bela Lugosi.
Chewing insects, rats and scenery with equal sweaty fever, Neil Robertson returns as the scene stealing lunatic, Renfield, who equally reveres and fears the dark power at Dracula’s command. Robertson was in full tilt crazy mode during this recent Saturday night’s performance. His character’s delusional mania allows him to frequently break the fourth wall with unsuspecting audience members including one youngster in the front row who will not likely soon forget his rainy night out at Actors Theatre.
Grant Goodman makes an austere and forthright Abraham Van Helsing and Rin Allen, who has worked as a stunt performer in many productions including DC Comic’s “Gotham” TV series, brings a lithe athleticism to the cursed Lucy Westenra. The technical crew delivers all the gushing blood, bursts of flame and creatures of the night any vampire enthusiast could crave. From a breakneck opening of vampire attacks in London to the final assault on Dracula’s crypt, Actors Theatre brings its’ beloved Halloween thriller to new frenetic heights this season. Don’t miss it!
For dates, showtimes and tickets check out the Actors Theatre website at https://actorstheatre.org/shows/fifth-third-banks-dracula/. Tell them The Phantom of the Ville sent you!