Temple Theatre artistic director Peggy Taphorn’s adaptation of Bram Stoker’s 1897 horror novel, Dracula, flew off the stage Friday night like a big, blood-hungry vampire, reeking laughter and goose bumps galore. It was a marvelous follow-up to the Carolina Ballet’s magnificent performance of the story the previous week in Raleigh, which continues through next week.
Temple Theatre patrons get an all-out entertainment, with a preshow serenade by the Temple teen choristers of hits from upcoming shows. Peggy Taphorn’s adaptation pretty much follows the classical Stoker tale, with the crazed Renfield gobbling up spiders, flies, and vermin as he stares out at the castle Count Dracula has purchased in England. The Count pursues Lucy and Mina, Van Helsing is brought in to diagnose Lucy’s illness, and then everything just gets bloody and insane.
Professor Van Helsing, as played by Mark Filiaci, is brave and astute, a problem-solver with a quick mind and a willingness to action. Victor Rivera is unsettling and funny as Renfield, in perpetual motion snagging protein on the hoof and out of the air.
Jonathan Harker,fiancé of the lovely Mina and captive of the dangerous vampire in his Transylvania castle, is brought to us convincingly by Mark Allen Woodard. His transition from confident solicitor to terrified prisoner is unmistakable; and once he has escaped and regained his composure, the audience is constantly certain of the effects his ordeal has left on him.
Robyne Parrish as Mina struggles valiantly against the effects of the vampire bite by which Dracula hopes to transport her to the world of the undead. She also conjures up some the best screams ever heard on stage. This violent action comes unwillingly from the sedate, mild-mannered, loyal friend of Lucy.
Ryan Sheehe is delightfully Texan as Lucy’s cowboy suitor, his drawl humorously disturbing against the stiff speech of the British. The entire cast does superb work.
Costumer Peggy Taphorn has created lush apparel for this show. The three brides of Dracula are dressed in grotesque, garish gowns along with Christy Callaghan’s wigs, which enhance their monstrosity. The Count himself is attired in rich formal black, with a red lining in his cape that is so bright it looks like fresh blood.
Set designer Steven Harrington places us uncomfortably in Dracula’s castle, and comfortably in Lucy’s living room, and imprisons Renfield in a dank-looking cell. The efficient scene changes rely mostly on furniture rather than walls and decorations.
Effective lighting was designed by John Marty. Eerie sound effects lend a sense of horror to the production.
Give yourself a Halloween treat in Sanford seeing this fun and scary seasonal show.
SECOND OPINION: Oct. 15th Sanford, NC Sanford Herald preview by Zach Potter: http://www.sanfordherald.com/x1154810613/Temple-s-out-for-blood-with-Dracula; and Oct. 12th Fayetteville, NC Fayetteville Observer preview by Rodger Mullen: http://m.fayobserver.com/living/sunday_life/arts-bram-stoker-s-dracula-is-at-the-temple-theatre/article_03109e18-4600-5d66-a992-368d1c59dd3f.html.
Temple Theatre presents DRACULA, adapted by Peggy Taphorn and starring Ira David Wood IV, at 2 and 7 p.m. Oct. 23, 8 p.m. Oct. 24 and 25, 2 p.m. Oct. 30, 2 and 7 p.m. Oct. 25, 8 p.m. Oct. 31 and Nov. 1, and 2 p.m. Nov. 2 at 120 Carthage St., Sanford, North Carolina 27330.
TICKETS: $21 Thursday and $25 Friday-Sunday ($14 students and $21 Lee County teachers and educators, active-duty military personnel, and groups of 10 or more).
2014-15 SEASON: http://www.templeshows.com/showsandevents/fullseason14-15.php.
PRESENTER/VENUE: http://www.templeshows.com/, https://www.facebook.com/TheTempleTheatre, https://twitter.com/TempleTheatreNC, and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Temple_Theatre_%28Sanford,_North_Carolina%29.
Dracula (1897 horror novel): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dracula (Wikipedia).
Bram Stoker (Irish novelist, 1847-1912): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bram_Stoker (Wikipedia).
Martha Keravuori is a life-long theater artist — an actress, director, and stage manager — in North Carolina, around the country, and overseas. She has a theater degree from UNC-Greensboro, and has been active in the arts in Raleigh for the past 40 years. Martha is the retired executive director of the North Carolina Theatre Conference. Chuck Galle returned to Raleigh last year after a 17-year absence. He was active in community theater for many years, and directed the troupe of maximum-security inmates at Raleigh’s Central Prison known as the Central Prison Players. In New England, he performed on stage, on TV, and in films. He is the author of Stories I Never Told My Daughter — An Odyssey, which can be ordered on his website: http://www.chuckgalle.com/. Chuck Galle and Martha Keravuori review theater for Boom! Magazine of Cary. Click here to read more of their reviews for Boom! Magazine and here to read more of their reviews for Triangle Review and Triangle Arts and Entertainment.