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Dracula the Musical?: Finding the Comedy in Horror

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Dracula. Sound familiar? An isolated, macabre castle. A ghastly Count with no reflection. A classic horror story featuring bloodsucking vampires, an asylum, and…travelogues? Berkeley’s Advanced Drama class is putting a comic twist of the infamous Dracula with the fall play Dracula, the Musical?.

The 1922 version of Dracula was unnerving to audiences at the time, but today the concept may seem more ridiculous than terrifying. The spoof takes the element of comedy to a new level, with subtle jokes stemming from the original play and many laugh-out-loud moments for the entire audience to enjoy.

Much of the comedy of Dracula comes from the characters themselves. Sophomore Van Pittman plays Boris Renfield, a two-faced lunatic. Renfield, a sometimes good-natured gentleman, is other times a crazed psychopath who feeds off of roaches and spiders. Renfield believes that eating the bugs will help him realize his dream of becoming a vampire. Best of all, whenever the name of a place is mentioned around him Renfield breaks into song. A song in the form of an “enthusiastically contagious” travelogue to be specific.

Elisabeth Beam plays Mina, who she describes as the wistful, day-dreaming victim of the story. When asked about character development, Beam says that in the beginning, it is more about learning lines and blocking. Towards the end it is more stressful, but there is also room to express and establish character without worrying about reading off of a script in your hand.

A lot of actors in the play have been double cast so that when they aren’t playing one of the lead characters, they are given the opportunity to portray a mental patient or an angry villager in the ensemble. Often undermined as unimportant roles, these characters not only add to the comedy of the show but also are lots of fun to portray. Beam describes being in the ensemble as having few rules and limits. As a mental patient the cast is able to go crazy with it—literally!

The set promises to be spectacular, but details are being kept secret until opening night. You can look forward to seeing Dracula’s castle onstage, many laughs, and of course travelogues in Advanced Drama’s production of Dracula the Musical?. Be sure to catch the show on October 16 at 7 p.m., October 17 at 4 p.m. or 7:30 p.m. or October 18 at 7:30 p.m.!

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