Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Radio Theatre's "Dracula": You've Never Seen Bram Stoker Like This.

Looking for a Halloween themed activity this weekend? Try a spooky rendition of Dracula by Radio Theatre NYC. "Radio Theatre" is a modern take on the radio programs of yesteryear, presenting theatrical interpretations of actors reading story-scripts at radio mics, but before a live studio audience.

Stephanie Heitman as a Vampire Bride in Dracula
Photo by R. Patrick Alberty (Dracula's own Jonathan Harker) Used With Permission
The Dracula storytellers, for the most part, do not interact with each other on stage, though their stage presence and demeanor, and the deep passion in their voices creates vivid imagery for the audience without too much stretch of the imagination required. For those who do need a little more scenery to paint that perfect picture, there's a homemade fog machine queued up to spew smoke at any moment that calls for a chilling atmosphere.

In Dracula, like in Bram Stoker's original vision, there are several key characters -- Count Dracula of course (read by Patrick Halloran), solicitor Jonathan Harker (R. Patrick Alberty), his wife Mina Harker (Olivia Obaressi), Mina's friend Lucy Westerna (Stephanie Heitman), and prominent vampire hunter, Dr. Van Helsing (Joshua Nicholson). The story's narrator, voiced by the show's director, Frank Zilinyi, is presumably asylum keeper, Dr. John Seward, from Bram Stoker's novel, though his famous eccentric patient Renfield is conspicuously absent. The cast works together reading the story on stage as if they are living it, voices both taunting and trembling, with blood curdling screams abound.

Radio Theatre's Dracula has made it through several layers of adaptation before hitting Horse Trade's Kraine Theater. The original novel was adapted for radio by Orson Welles, legendary for his October 30, 1938 panic-causing War of the Worlds radio broadcast. In fact, Welles' Dracula broadcast hit the airwaves more than three months before War of the Worlds. Since then, Dan Bianchi has re-re-adapted Dracula for the modern "radio theatre" goers. Though, presumably, no one listening to the 1938 Dracula broadcast believed they should actually fear vampires at their windows and doors, theatergoers at Bianchi's current-running Dracula production may become so engrossed as to believe Dracula could creep up behind them in their seats at any moment, hungry for blood.

Like the Count's coffins of earth, time is running out for Dracula with only two more shows left this season. See it on Sundays, November 3 or 10, at 3pm, before it takes flight. Tickets are $25 for general admission and $15 for students/seniors/military, and are available for purchase online, at the door, or by calling 212-868-4444. The Kraine Theater is located at 85 East 4th Street between 2nd and 3rd Avenues.

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