OCT’s Dracula delivers bloody-good entertainment

Spooky atmospherics and more make the horror classic a must-see this season.

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Posted October 23, 2022 | By Julie Garisto, julie@magnoliamediaco.com

Ocala Civic Theatre sinks its fangs into the vintage horror of “Dracula” this Halloween season. The two-act vampire tale will cast its spell on Marion County’s premier community theater from Oct. 20 to Nov. 6.
As many may already know, the plot follows Abraham Van Helsing as he investigates the mysterious illness of a young woman, Lucy Seward. With the help of her father and fiancé, the famed vampire hunter discovers she is the victim of Count Dracula, the titular bloodsucker.
The 1924 script by Hamilton Deane, later revised by John L. Balderston, is based on Bram Stoker’s novel of the same name. Balderston’s revised version influenced countless adaptations that followed, including the iconic 1931 film adaptation starring Bela Lugosi and, four decades later, a Tony-winning Broadway revival in 1977, which featured Frank Langella as the count, who soon after starred in a movie version. Martin Scorsese’s 1992 “Bram Stoker’s Dracula,” starring Gary Oldman, borrows directly from the novel bypassing.
Director Timothy Williams, a Florida native who has directed, taught, and performed in Central Florida theaters for more than 25 years, spares no attention to detail in creating authenticity and atmospheric gloom in Ocala.
“Our team has created a world inspired by one hundred and 25 years of pop culture mythology, influenced by the period in which Stoker first published his gothic horror masterpiece in 1897,” Williams writes in the program’s “Director Notes,” adding that he hopes to “make what is old new again.”
Lighting designer Thomas Altman and sound designer Jazmine Whipple deserve top billing for their spooky sights and sounds of moving shadows, lightning bolts and howling wolves. Likewise, costume designer Genevieve McCormick skillfully turns back the clock with flair, outfitting the cast with turn-of-the-century satin, chiffon, ruffles and vests, and supplies just the right swoosh with Dracula’s cape.
Big props also go to stage manager Tom Ferreira as well as dialect coach Lori L. Engler, fight/intimacy coordinator Kiara Feliciano and scenic designer Milhai Ciupe, whose studies and boudoirs look so antiquated that you can almost smell the mustiness.
Exceedingly well-cast, the actors in “Dracula” add new life to the undead classic. James R. Taylor III portrays the debonair Dracula with elegance and gravitas, and Megan Wager deftly pulls off a gender switcheroo once again (as she did last January in “Around the World in 80 Days”) by playing the hunched-over Renfield.
Shannon Guinn is the perfect good girl gone vamp as Lucy Seward, imbuing the ingenue with gentile frailty, despair and predatory evil all at once. Van Helsing’s Old World heroics get their due from Alan J. Hickey, who provides a distinguished and impassioned foil to the calculating count.
Angi Cantor fetches some giggles as Miss Wells, the straight-talking housekeeper, and straight men Gregory Stone Doss (Dr. Seward), Christian Gonzales (Jonathan Harker) and Ken Noble (Butterworth) more than adequately play their parts.
In “Dracula,” science clashes with Old World superstition, said Williams. “Its melodrama brings to life our fear of death, disease and damnation in this ageless fairy tale of seduction and unspeakable horror.”

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DETAILS

Dracula
Oct. 20-Nov. 6
Ocala Civic Theatre
7:30 p.m. on Thursdays and Fridays, 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. on Saturdays and 2 p.m. on Sundays
Tickets are $30 for adults and $15 for teens 18 and younger
Note: This play is not recommended for children
For more information, visit ocalacivictheatre.com