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Centreville High cuts its teeth on ‘Dracula’

Steve Einhorn, a student at Robert E. Lee High School, reviews Centreville High School’s “Dracula” as part of The Cappies Critics and Awards Program.

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Julien Guh from Centreville High School. (Photo courtesy of Centreville HS)

With the blockbuster “The Twilight Saga: New Moon” now in theaters, vampires seem to be as ubiquitous as ever. While out basking in all the Hollywood over-hyped vampire hoopla, you should have been sinking your teeth into Centreville High School's adaptation of the granddaddy of all vampire tales, “Dracula.”

Based on Bram Stoker's novel, “Dracula” has endured time and continued to enthrall audiences for decades. Countless film and television adaptations have appeared over the years, including the popular “Nosferatu” and the 1931 film “Dracula” starring Béla Lugosi.

The Dracula storyline reveals a poor soul named Jonathan Harker who travels to Transylvania to complete a business transaction with Count Dracula. Right away, it appears the Count may have ulterior motives. Stuck in the Count’s labyrinth castle, Harker is unable to contact Mina, his fiancée, who longs for his quick return. As Mina waits patiently with her best friend, Lucy, the Count pays an unexpected visit and Lucy is seduced.

Centreville High School's production was anchored by its eerie technical concepts and male performances, despite some difficulties in execution and slow pacing.

The strong cast was lead by Mitchell Cole as Seward and Julien Guh as Harker. Both actors were clearly committed to their roles and brought their characters to life with an array of emotions. Annemarie Scerra did an excellent job as Mina, conveying her character’s thoughts and convictions. With a compelling and thoughtful portrayal of Van Helsing, Stephen Belden never once wavered from character.

Anthony Ingargiola's depiction of asylum inmate Renfield was insane and terrific. He was haunting in his role and lifted the show when energy waned. Ian Lyons' calculating and deliberate portrayal of Count Dracula quenched the audience’s thirst for blood. Marlo Clingman’s portrayal of Lucy was convincing, and her stake-through-the-heart scene was chilling.

As the Vixens, Emily Dwornik and Kelly Strauch worked well together as a unit, as did the ensemble of Dracula’s victims, whose constant presence in the background soon became an integral part of the setting. Jacob Strauch also created a memorable character in the minor role of an attendant.

The sets were well-designed by the Theatre III tech class and contrasted nicely with Andy Hoggins and Nick Dell’Omo’s lighting. Although some technical elements did occasionally detract from the show, the sound effects designed by Colin Fitt contributed to the ambiance of the production, from the spooky organ to the wolves' whines.

Dracula is an ambitious and challenging task for any theatre company, but Centreville High School’s admirable production made for a hauntingly tasty evening treat that left its audience thirsty for more.

By Steve Einhorn, Posted by Mario Iván Oña  |  December 16, 2009; 9:34 AM ET
 | Tags: Cappies 2009  
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