Needles and fangs
There are a few characters whose names have become synonymous with Halloween: Jason, Michael Myers, maybe even Saw for the newer generation. But none of them will come close to the infamy of the classics: The Mummy, Swamp Thing, Frankenstein, and most importantly Dracula.
Bringing the King of Halloween himself to the stage is Community Theatre of Greensboro with its production of Dracula.
“I always loved the old black-and-white 1930s movie with Bela Lugosi (a Hungarian- American actor),” said Mitchel Sommers, CTG executive director. “I used to watch it as a child and hide under the covers. When I saw the original Bela Lugosi movie was based on the 1930s Broadway play that he also starred in, it seemed like we had to do this play.”
The Broadway play, which hit the stage in 1927, was actually Lugosi’s first major Englishspeaking role. The production centers on a doctor’s daughter who suddenly falls sick to a mysterious illness. The town, including her father, the lead doctor of an English sanatorium, soon discover that she has actually fallen victim to a vampire, a ghost that sucks blood by night. It is Count Dracula himself who must be stopped.
Sommers said he’s excited to be a part of a spooky production that “actually has a scary, Halloweenish feel to it.”
The director of the show, Dan Seaman, shared a similar sentiment.
“When Mitchell called and offered me the show, I was ecstatic about the choice,” Seaman said. “It’s a fun piece and lets you play with so many effects and moods within a single evening.”
Unlike Sommers, Seaman said he prefers to be scared by live productions. “It’s so much more engaging,” he said.
“Dracula, Deathtrap and Wait Until Dark are all favorites,” he continued. “I think it’s easier to take the moments for granted in movies and assign it all to trick photography. But if we can pull it off right in front of you, live, that’s something to treasure.”
Seaman said the production is full of action, special effects, strong acting and, “a commitment to return to the original vampire story and lore.”
Even the costumes, and most importantly the cape, reflect the period clothing, which Seaman said has made the production special. That’s in addition to the fact that CTG’s Dracula also played the role in a Dudley High School production, where Seaman used to teach. The two have maintained a theatre relationship across five decades.
“Renewing past relationships from my teaching days at Weaver Center and Dudley High as well as Greensboro College (has made this project special),” Seaman said.
To drum up excitement for the play, as well as, help out in the community, the theater had the magnificent idea of pairing their production of fangs with an event of needles: a blood drive. Unfortunately, the date the American Red Cross had available for the blood drive conflicted with the show itself, so the blood drive couldn’t be arranged, but the theater still encourages its community to donate if they are able. After all, Dracula isn’t the only one thirsty for blood in our community; one pint of donated blood can save up to three lives, according to the American Red Cross.
In addition to tapping into your volunteer veins, CTG urges audiences to come out and celebrate the holiday’s classic history and one of the longest-standing symbols of Halloween.
Of course, Seaman and Sommers both admit that though they love the classic character, they have other favorites of the season, too. Sommers loves the black-and-white Dracula film, but his favorite classic Halloween character hits a little closer to home: the wicked witch from the Wizard of Oz. Whereas Seaman’s favorite character is The Great Pumpkin. !
CTG’s Dracula runs this Friday, Oct. 23, through next Sunday, Nov. 1, at its Starr Theatre, 520 S. Elm St., Greensboro. Tickets are $10-$30. For tickets and more information visit ctgso.org or call 333-7469.