'Dracula' will seduce theatergoers

Tired of the same old Halloween entertainment starring Jamie Lee Curtis, Neve Campbell or — worse yet — Jennifer Love Hewitt? If so, La Jolla Playhouse’s production of “”Dracula: The Musical”” is an alternative for a good thrill.

Courtesy of La Jolla Playhouse

Ghosts, monsters and vampires have lurked in Halloween lore through the ages. Whether it has been in films or books, the undead have always been fascinating.

“”Dracula: The Musical,”” based on Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel “”Dracula,”” chronicles the mysterious life of Transylvania’s most infamous resident. When attorney Jonathan Harker visits Dracula’s home about a property transaction, Dracula is revitalized. When he sees a picture of Harker’s fiancee, Mina Murray, Dracula feels that Mina could be the woman that he lost many centuries earlier.

The plot thickens as Dracula travels to Victorian-era London to seek his long-lost bride. While there, Dracula encounters vampire-hunter and professor Abraham Van Helsing as well as Mina’s best friend, Lucy Westenra. Trouble ensues as Dracula seduces Lucy and turns her into a vampire, prompting Van Helsing and others to hunt down Dracula and kill him.

“”Dracula: The Musical”” is a production full of romance and lust, in addition to the supernatural, mystery and suspense of any good horror flick.

Adapting “”Dracula”” from a literary work to the stage is a challenge, but the crew of the musical is full of veterans of the theater business. The music was written by Frank Wildhorn (“”The Scarlet Pimpernel,”” “”Jekyll and Hyde””) and the lyrics were created by Don Black (“”Sunset Boulevard””) and Christopher Hampton (“”Sunset Boulevard,”” “”Les Liaisons Dangereuses””).

Under the direction of Des McAnuff (“”The Who’s ‘Tommy,'”” “”How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying””), “”Dracula: The Musical”” is a technically complex production. Stagehands are practically nonexistent because virtually all the sets are brought onto the stage by machines and hydraulics. Surprises abound as props appear out of thin air and special effects are usedheavily. The design of the set alone is worth the price of admission.

“”Dracula: The Musical”” is a Broadway-level production that is not often seen on many campuses.

The musical score has a haunted, detached feel to it, embodying the feelings of Dracula. McAnuff is very excited with the score.

“”The music is quite different than Frank Wildhorn’s other scores”” he said. “”It has more of a classical feel, less pop and more mesmeric and haunted and unworldly I find his melodies for ‘Dracula’ truly arresting and, needless to say, I hope the rest of the world agrees.””

“”Dracula: The Musical”” is definitely more refined and thrilling than your standard B-movie. If you are looking for a truly haunting alternative for getting your Halloween spooks this week, “”Dracula: The Musical”” might be just what you are looking for.

“”Dracula: The Musical”” is the last production of the La Jolla Playhouse’s 2001 season and continues from now until Nov. 25 at the Mandell Weiss Theatre. Tickets can be purchased online at http://www.lajollaplayhouse.com and student discounts are available.

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