Students sink their teeth into 'Dracula' CARROLL COUNTY DIVERSIONS

November 13, 1992|By Pat Brodowski | Pat Brodowski,Contributing Writer

"Two puncture wounds upon the neck!" exclaims Professor Van Helsing, who knows a vampire bite when she sees one. Mina Murray, bloodless and with a punctured throat, has become a victim of Count Dracula.

"Dracula," the famous tale of horror and suspense, will be staged tonight and tomorrow night by students of North Carroll High School. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. and the curtain rises at 8. Tickets are $3.

Those small, red wounds appear again and again in the clever production by drama instructor Roberta Rooney. Tony Konzal, a junior at North Carroll, is her assistant.

On the black stage, the actors speak inside circles of white light. In each scene the stark white lace dresses and black suits are punctured by one telltale glimpse of red.

Six sets, built by art teacher Janet Halman, move the story from a castle to English interiors to a crypt.

Nineteenth-century London is portrayed by near-authentic costumes, including vintage fashions from the Dorothy Elderdice collection (housed at Western Maryland College) chosen by Kristen Bolster, a veteran of the school stage. Jason Matthews will carve the stage with shafts of light. Mike Wooten is stage manager.

Dracula's blood lust is revealed after he encounters family and friends of Henry and Martha Westenra. Of the 15-member cast, eight have felt, or will feel, the vampire's bite.

There are three vampire women in the count's castle. They are played by Erynn Borning, Rainbow Colder and Selena Schreyer. Dracula's thirst soon finds women and servants under his teeth.

Lucy Westenra is his chosen one, who somehow eludes his advances. Jason Durham makes his first stage appearance as Count Dracula, who floats to Lucy in billowing fog.

"The chemistry between Dracula and Lucy -- it's seductive," said Angie Cote, in her first lead as Lucy. "Other times, innocence takes over."

Family and servants provide clues to the nature of the romance. Matt Naylor, who plays the butler, Charles, says, offstage, "I spill my guts, tell them all I know. But who am I? A nearsighted, drunken old butler they're ready to throw out on the street. They don't believe me."

Unique to this production is Dr. Van Helsing cast as a female.

Suzanne Wallace auditioned well for the Van Helsing role, said Mrs. Rooney. "There is a massive number of lines to learn," she adds.

Suzanne has just about mastered the part. She and Dr. Peter Seward, played by Eric Lyga, discover that the tragic tales of the butler are true.

"Lucy is basically in a hypnotic trance," said Andy Rittler, who as Lucy's father, Henry Westenra, does not see the seductive efforts of the count. Chastity Geiman plays Lucy's mother, Martha.

Mina Murray, the unfortunate friend of Lucy, is played by Rebecca Woodward; her fiancee, Arthur, is played by Todd Walter. Renfield, the sanitarium patient who falls under the vampire's bite, is played by Josh Scanlan. Dave Grote plays Dr. Seward's servant.

The numerous characters provide needed background to the main characters, says Andy Rittler.

"Every role builds on another role. And we give comic relief, a breather between scenes," he said.

Brett Dowling plays Jonathan Harker, Lucy's fiancee, who is mysteriously lost in Castle Dracula until the last scene.

"I'm completely naive," admits Lucy. "I don't see him until the end."

The fateful end and the final vampire are a surprise.

Work on the production began in September. About two-thirds of the 40 students involved are in the school Drama Club or theater classes.

They're working to the last minute to engineer a bat that flutters from a coffin throughout the theater, a breaking mirror, and a bellowing organ to highlight key spoken lines.

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