Just in time for Halloween, the Jacksonville University
College of Fine Arts is resurrecting the peerless bloodsucking villain Count
Dracula for local audiences’ enchantment.
from a typical theatrical production: While embracing the reality that vampires
are a modern-day pop culture phenomenon, JU theater professor Deborah Jordan is
ambitiously replicating the original 1938 production of Orson Welles’ “Dracula:
A Radio Play.”
musically by JU professor Scott Watkins, the show will feature a live orchestra
performance when it hits the stage at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 28 and Oct. 30 at Terry
Watkins say it’s hard to pinpoint what the show’s most notable element will be.
It could be
recreating history: Welles’ Mercury Theatre On the Air troupe debuted with “Dracula”
two months before tantalizing his audience with War of the Worlds, which was so
realistic that many listeners thought Martians were in fact invading the earth.
Overnight, the little-known 23-year-old Welles became a household name
throughout the United States.
production’s highlight could be the undertaking by Watkins and company to
restore Bernard Hermann’s original music from the Mercury show, or having Foley
artists on hand – just as Welles did – to provide sound effects.
Or maybe it will be the sheer frightfulness
of the Count, who has generated more than 150 movies since Irish author Bram
Stoker penned the Gothic horror novel “Dracula” in 1897.
In any case, the JU production will be
an intricately fashioned Halloween treat.
Jordan said she and her crew are particularly
charmed – as they hope their audiences will be – by the use of theatrical
students to mimic sounds in the play, including simulated gunshots.
“In every way possible, we are trying to
recreate the 1938 broadcast. They did everything live,” Jordan said. “Everyone
is working so hard. There’s a lot of dedication going into this.”
Noting that through dramatics,
musicians and technicians, radio was once the primary medium of exciting the
imagination, Watkins says he’s hoping that an audio recording of the show that
can be perpetually rebroadcast will be produced.
“Back in 1938, Dracula (the novel) was
about 40 years old, so it was a big deal back then to actually take a novel and
make it come alive,” Watkins said. “This is really a unique undertaking for us
all and something that is special about it is that music is such an integral
part of the product.”
Cast in the show are Nick Boucher
as Count Dracula, Dracula’s Caleche driver and Dr. Arthur Seward; Brian Trumble
as the announcer, Hildesheim, and the Demeter captain; David Bilbray as
Jonathan Harker, Esq.; Marisa Battaglia portraying a production manager; Roy
Matos as the stage coach driver, deck hand 1, news reader voice, and the old
man; Sean Segerstrom as the first officer (mate), news vendor, and the Czarina
Catrina captain; Katerina Howell as deck hand 2 and second reading voice; Alec
Hadden as Van Helsing; Elaine Tyson as Lucy; and Ashley Jones as Mina.
Brand Lettow is the show’s
technical director, Battaglia is the stage manager (in addition to portraying
the production manager on stage), Rhea Derke is the Folio artist head, and Elyn
Wolf is the costume coordinator.
Tickets to the show are $10 for
adults, $7 for seniors and military; $5 for students and children under 17; and
free for JU students, faculty and staff.
information, call (904) 256-7374 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo information: "Dracula: A Radio Play" at Jacksonville University on Oct. 28 and Oct. 30 features (from left) Elaine Tyson as Lucy, Alexander Hadden as Van Helsing, Nick Boucher as Dracula. (Photo by William E. Hill/Jacksonville University)