Messenger photo by Kristy Zurbrick
Members of the cast of Jonathan Alder High School’s production of “Dracula” rehearse: (front) Shannon Miller as a vampire, Spencer Newsad as Van Helsing; (back row, from left) Dane Baldwin as Arthur Holmwood; Noah Ramage as Dr. Peter Seward, Jay Hobson as Dracula, Phillip Kisamore as Renfield, and Erin Branam as Mina Murray.
Shauna Piatt has directed four plays at Jonathan Alder High School—“Miracle Worker,” “Curtain Going Up,” “Romeo and Juliet” and “More Than Meets the Eye.” Her fifth has a bit more bite.
“Dracula” will bare his fangs on the Jonathan Alder stage Nov. 9-11. Performances are set for 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday. If the football team wins its first playoff game on Nov. 3, the time of the Nov. 10 performance will be changed to noon. Tickets can be purchased at the door and are $7 for adults and $5 for students and seniors.
“It’s a classic scary story. It’s a week-and-a-half after Halloween. And it’s ‘Dracula!’ What more can I say?” said Piatt of her decision to stage the vampire tale.
To find the perfect version, Piatt said she read through several scripts. The adaptation she chose, written by John Mattera, stays truest to the cast of characters originally set forth in Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel.
“Renfield was missing from a lot of them. He’s the guy in the psych ward with a small role but it’s important to the story,” she said, also noting that several versions of the play called for only four or five cast members. Mattera’s version has 15.
Jonathan Alder’s cast includes Count Dracula (played by Jay Hobson), who in the first act meets with Jonathan Harker (played by Caleb Thompson), an assistant to a London, England, real estate agent. Dracula has expressed interest in property in London, but not for the usual reasons.
Dracula pursues Lucy Westenra (Cassidy Brauner), Harker’s fiancée and the spitting image of Dracula’s murdered lover.
As Dracula’s curse takes hold of Lucy, her health falters. The local doctor, Peter Seward (Noah Ramage), doesn’t know what to make of her condition and strange dreams. He consults with his friend, Professor Abraham Van Helsing (Spencer Newsad), an expert of sorts on vampires.
In the course of his investigation, Van Helsing learns of Dracula’s evil plan from the Westenra family’s butler, Charles (Zach Hill)‚ and Seward’s mentally ill patient, Renfield (Phillip Kisamore). It’s then that he realizes he is in a mortal battle with the undead, and he must convince those around him of the truth.
Also part of the action are: Erin Branam as Mina Murray, Lucy’s friend; T.J. Roby and Jeanette Gingerich as Lucy’s par-ents, Henry and Martha Westenra; Dane Baldwin as Arthur Holmwood, Mina’s fiancé; P.J. Peters as a servant in the asylum; and Marian Hobson, Shannon Mil-ler and Haley Austermiller as three female vampires.
In addition to playing the part of Jonathan Harker, Caleb Thompson serves as the production’s student director. He has directed two shows and acted in three.
T.J. Roby also is pulling double duty. Besides playing Henry Westenra, he also is artistic manager of set and stage design, with help from Chelsea Burchett.
For the fifth straight year, Piatt’s husband, Art, has guided the students in the set’s design and construction. An avid fan of writer Anne Rice, who has a penchant for vampire stories, Art has enjoyed concocting the dark and eerie set, complete with Dracula’s crypt.
Ally Brickner is the stage manager. Her crew includes Nia Greenbaum, Mitch Hager, Kyle Patton and Jason Quinn. David Booth, Rob Foglesong, Ashley Gantz and Rachel Starkey are running lights and sound. Cheyanne Wolfe is prop master. Kalie Sifrit is in charge of makeup.