Pasadena's 'Dracula' flies at brisk pace Vampire: Bram Stoker's version has the count and his victim exchanging love bites in this well-done Halloween season production.

October 15, 1998|By Mary Johnson | Mary Johnson,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

The century-old Dracula legend has all but achieved theatrical immortality, reincarnated in various guises, from the 1931 horror movie with Bella Lugosi to the recent Gothic romance with Gary Oldman.

Now comes the Pasadena Theatre Company and its production of Bram Stoker's "Dracula" in the Humanities Recital Hall at Anne Arundel Community College on weekends this month.

The story remains romantic, but what decades ago was sexual innuendo has become more explicit. The vampire sets about seducing the sanitarium owner's daughter, and she seduces her suitor to learn his secrets.

Greg Younger gives us a devilishly handsome Dracula who weaves a hypnotic spell and waves a wicked cape as he outwits or enslaves most folks at the sanitarium and sets his teeth on Lucy Seward, the owner's daughter.

Leanna Foglia is perfectly cast as Lucy, the delicate young Victorian woman who suffers silently as she rebuffs her hapless suitor, Jonathan Harker. She goes from wan to wanton as she exchanges love bites with Younger's Dracula, becoming his mate.

Joseph Brunetti is convincing as Dr. Van Helsing, the first to recognize Count Dracula as a vampire and who sets about to destroy him and save Lucy. A pivotal character who gradually reveals occult mysteries in a rational manner, Helsing is well realized in Brunetti's portrayal.

Renfield, one of the mental patients at the sanitarium, is played brilliantly and over the top by Greg Coale.

Less impressive were Pete Smak as Jonathan Harker and Tony Anzalone as Dr. Seward; both were trapped in unforgiving roles of stodgy Victorian gentlemen.

Smak is confined in the early going to playing Lucy's dutiful pawn and comes off as wimpy. But he is rewarded later with scenes he can sink his teeth into.

Anzalone is overloaded with reams of dialogue to memorize and seems as if he is reciting the lines, especially when he flubs one or two.

Director Chuck Dick has done a superior job in moving the complex action forward at a brisk pace. The special effects -- smoke, lights, wolf howls -- all contributed greatly to the mood. The costumes were splendid and the sets appropriate. The set change from library to vault was seamless.

And the Halloween season timing couldn't be better. The intimate theater at the community college is comfortable, but on Saturday it was half-empty. This show deserves a larger audience to trick or treat with Dracula.

tTC Information: Pasadena Theatre Company at 410-969-1801.

Pub Date: 10/15/98

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