Sink your fangs into Walterdale's production of Dracula
Heroine of classic vampire tale portrayed by Paul Kane alumna
Saturday, Oct 12, 2013 06:00 am
Forget sparkly vampires – the Walterdale Theatre’s newest production tackles the tale of one of the most famous blood suckers of them all: Dracula.
“This version of Dracula is written by Steven Dietz and is based on Bram Stoker’s novel,” said director Darrell Portz. Stoker’s classic gothic novel introduced Dracula and pitted him against a group of men and women, lead by a professor, when he tries to relocate from Transylvania to London, England.
Portz, who has appeared as an actor with the St. Albert Theatre Troupe, is making his directorial debut with the gothic show.
His production has tried to give a little subtlety to the creepy Count, trying to not pick sides between Dracula and those defending against him.
“What we’ve done is try to stay neutral,” Portz said, adding Dracula, like his now-anemic targets, is a victim of circumstance. He has to drink blood to live, but does try and get his meals to submit.
“He has to prey on the living in order to continue to live. But why not make a game of it?” Portz asked.
Portz has stuck with the traditional settings of the novel, Transylvania and London in the late 1800s. A lot of work has gone into the production side of the show.
“It’s probably one of the most ambitious productions that Walterdale has put on,” Portz said. It’s fast-paced, moving through 31 scenes in several locations. They had to design the set so the audience would be able to tell where the characters are at any given point.
“The play also has a number of special effects that we’re dong,” Portz said. “I don’t want to give them away, but we have a couple of scenes that hopefully will surprise and shock the audience.”
Portz and the cast put a lot of thought into analyzing the material and the concept of hero, especially regarding the role of Mina, the female lead. In the story, Mina’s character arc takes her from victim to seeking a solution alongside the men.
Louise Large, who caught the acting bug while going to school in St. Albert, is playing Mina, a departure from her usual brand of characters.
“This part for me as an actor is something that’s pretty different from the work I typically do,” Large said. “I’m usually cast on the other side of good versus evil.”
She had to be careful preparing her performance to not end up with a stereotypically hysterical Victorian woman. “There’s a lot of muscles that you kind of have to flex and it can very easily run into very stock territory if you’re not thinking carefully,” she said. Large said her performance is a blend of the original material and modern sensibilities.
“Having a female hero in the story is a pretty amazing thing for that period of time,” Large said.
There’s good chemistry amongst the cast and the production is a “feast for the senses,” Large said.
It’s a great Halloween show, Portz said.
“Dracula is still one of the all-time greats for monsters in pop culture,” Portz said.
Dracula runs from Oct. 16 to 26 at the Walterdale Theatre. Tickets can be purchased at www.tixonthesquare.ca.