John Szablewski Reviews

Theatre Review: ‘Dracula’ by Lancaster Regional Players at Lancaster Opera House

Sometimes, a playwright will adapt a novel into a script that just is too large to condense into a story that an audience will be able to understand in two and a half hours. The author of the novel has time to develop their characters and can allow for the story to build. A playwright has to tell a story, and tell it fast to keep the audience on their side. Adapting a story form a novel, especially a long novel, is a very tedious process and quite frankly, is a process that is not usually done well. Steven Deitz’s ‘Dracula’ has that problem. It is a heartless adaptation of a dark novel from the 1800’s.

. . . if you are a fan of the Bram Stoker novel, and are looking for a great night out during this Halloween season, go see this show!

Lancaster Regional Players takes on the monumental feat of mounting the Deitz version of ‘Dracula’ – the story that has made it’s mark on popular culture with countless film versions and stage adaptations. Telling the tale of the aristocrat, Count Dracula, as he moves to London and slowly begins taking control of helpless victims who each have what he was needs. . .their blood. This version is one of the best stage adaptations of the Bram Stoker novel, yet it still leaves large holes in the story that are confusing if you are not fully familiar with the tale. This, of-course, is not the fault of Lancaster Regional Players, as they must perform the script as written, but it still should be said that if you find yourself, lost at certain points of the story, you are not alone.

Directors David Hall and Joel Murphy take on this challenge, and make some great artistic choices for this production that make the weak script watchable. The set is one of the most intriguing and fascinating ones that I have seen in a long time. It is extremely versatile and it keeps the audience’s interest, even when Dietz’s script does not. The art design of the set is very impressive and the cast interaction with the set is one that positively assists in telling this story.

It is interesting to note that Hall and Murphy enlist the use of background actors to assist in scene changes, and while they were a little clunky during the opening night performance, the thought behind them is admirable. Opening night is always a nervous time, so I can only imagine that these will be smoother as the show continues it’s run.

Jamie Nablo (Lucy) and Kara Lynn Harris (Mina) take on the leading lady roles and play them very well with admirable chemistry. Dietz does not give these roles very much to work with in the area of three-dimensionality, but Nablo and Harris bring great artistic choices to their parts and work with what the script gives them.

Trevor Dugan does a nice job playing Dr. Seward in this show. Dugan is a great character actor and takes on the challenge of playing the manager of an asylum and does so very well. When it comes to being over taken by Dracula himself, Dugan takes some unique artistic risks but his portrayal is enjoyable overall.

Christopher Fire takes on the title character in this piece, and is very intimidating while doing so.  He brings a feminine sex appeal to the role that caused a few audience members to coo in giddy excitement. He performs well as the creepy aristocrat. 

Overall, this production has some very positive pieces that make it work, but the script is just difficult to stay interested in. It’s a long show, and it feels long. That being said, if you are a fan of the Bram Stoker novel, and are looking for a great night out during this Halloween season, go see this show!

Running Time: 2 Hours 30 minutes with one 15-minute intermission.

“Dracula” runs until October 15, 2017, is produced by Lancaster Regional Players, and is presented at Lancaster Opera House in Lancaster. For more information, click here.