Stephen Gilson Jr.
The University of La Verne Department of Theater Arts presented a student-directed production of “Dracula,” adapted from the Bram Stoker book, last week in Dailey Theatre.
The sold-out play had its opening Oct. 28 in time for Halloween.
The play is about an undead man, Count Dracula, played by freshman English major Mateo Cole, and his unquenchable thirst for blood to feed his immortality.
“It is great that people are coming out to show support for theater, especially since we have been working on this play since December,” said Robert Meredith, the sophomore theater and philosophy major, who directed the play. “It is also nerve-wracking when there are almost 200 people filling up the seats and watching your work. It is a double-edged sword in that sense.”
The play was filled with exceptional and memorable performances. Cole had a great presence and stole every scene he was in. Lucy, played by sophomore theater arts major Reese Oliver, and Harker, played by senior theater and business administration major Nickolas McLean, had deeply emotional and blood-curdling scenes together.
“It is fun preparing for a role like Harker,” McLean said. “Since Harker has some pretty traumatic experiences throughout the play, I tried to look inside of myself and look at my experiences that triggered an emotional response. I formed my performance out of that.”
A flashback scene occurred before the midpoint of the play, where Oliver’s Lucy recounted the moment she started to notice that she started to feel unwell. Lucy is a sleepwalker, and Cole’s Dracula managed to catch Lucy in the middle of sleepwalking. Dracula then sunk his teeth into Lucy’s neck and she let out such a bone-chilling scream that a shiver was sent down the spines of the audience members. In fact, several actually jumped from their seats during this intense scene.
“I try to put myself in the place of the people who lived in the Victorian era of England,” Oliver said. “People have not changed much since then. I personally see a lot of myself in Lucy, so that made preparing for a role in an older fiction piece much easier.”
It is also important to note just how much effort goes into making these shows such a joy to watch. Stage hands were often seen moving around props for different scenes, and even the actors themselves helped move some of the bigger props that were used during the play.
There was a crew operating the lights during a scene where Harker, Mina, Doctor Seward, and Doctor Van Helsing line up in front of the audience and have back-and-forth dialogue about how to save Mina from death after she is bitten by Dracula. The lighting focused one strong light on each of the four actors, and gave their vocal performances a much more dire and stress-inducing tone.
Meredith emphasized how important is is for the community to come out and support the theater program by seeing their shows. It takes a lot of coordination and logistical effort from a multitude of people to make these plays run smoothly and allow the audience to enjoy the show. The audience also saw how much dedication and hard work is put into these works of art.
“It makes the community join together and support its students,” said Emma Vu, senior business administration major, who attended the show.
At the end of the two-and-a-half hour show the audience showered the cast with loud applause, leaving the audience in anticipation for the theater program’s next production.
Stephen Gilson Jr. can be reached at email@example.com.