Theater Info for the Washington DC region

Centreville High School Dracula

By • Nov 24th, 2009 • Category: Cappies

Madness, romance, and the undead in 19th century England came together in Centreville High School’s petrifying performance of Dracula. This classic vampire story was made even more frightening with its passionate actors and all-white set to truly create an air of terror.

Steven Dietz’s Dracula, based on the novel by Bram Stoker, revolves around the sanguinary habits of Count Dracula. Jonathan Harker (Julien Guh) reveals his escape from a traumatizing stay at Count Dracula’s Transylvanian castle through his letters; meanwhile, his fiancĂ©e Mina (Annemarie Scerra) and her friend Lucy (Marlo Clingman) remain oblivious to its dangerous foreshadowing. Lucy is busy picking a suitor, one of whom is John Seward (Mitchell Cole), who oversees an insane asylum. One of Seward’s patients, Renfield (Anthony Ingargiola), relies on the blood of living animals believing they give him vitality, and he becomes of particular interest to Seward. When Lucy falls ill from a vampire bite, Seward calls for his mentor Van Helsing (Steve Belden), who is the only one who understands the severity of the dilemma at hand.

Anthony Ingargiola brought a sinister and intense energy to the stage. His physicality was always captivating, and whether he was throwing his chained hands against the wall or leisurely licking the rat’s blood from his arms, his performance was consistently chilling. Ingargiola portrayed the complex emotions of a madman with the finesse of a professional, earning him the full attention of the audience not just with every line, but with his nonverbal choices as well.

Marlo Clingman also portrayed a huge range of emotions. Her character’s journey from a coquettish girl to an invalid terrorized by the night to a cruel vampire was engrossing. Despite the emotional and physical intricacies her role demanded, Clingman mastered her character and never failed to entertain.

The pacing of the show, despite sometimes being too slow, allowed the cast to build intensity within the scenes. While some actors did not seem to fully understand the depth of their lines, the cast did a laudable job of never breaking character, which was particularly important in maintaining the eerie feel of the show.

Even with the occasional distractions of a noisy stage crew, the set was gorgeously minimalistic, playing on key props like huge windows and a bed to create a cozy bedroom that could easily be transformed into a dark room in a Transylvanian castle. The stage was divided into three different sets, which would unpredictably light up to showcase a new scene. One wall was creepily marked in bloody handprints and words, setting the mood for Renfield’s madness. Despite some instances when the light came on too soon, cutting off characters and exposing unprepared scenes, the lighting was always well done and appropriate. The colors reflected the mood and even implied the setting as it shaped trees onto the stage.

Dracula presents the haunting proposal that monsters live among us, and not just in the fantastic concept of vampires, but in the idea of insanity and madness. Centreville High School, with its talented and memorable cast, allowed this daunting show about the undead to come to life.

by Grace Donovan of Osbourn High School

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