Pioneer Theatre Company's "Dracula" is a Chilling, Moody Adaptation

The legend of Dracula is an archetypal story about an evil being who gains power for himself by destroying the lives of others. In the process, that being becomes a monster to be pitied almost as much as his victims. As doctor Van Helsing, who puts his life and faith at stake in his fight against the monster, puts it, "To face the Nosferatu is to face a great test for your soul."

Pioneer Memorial Theatre's current production of Dracula, a stage adaptation of the Bram Stoker novel by PMT artistic director Charles Morey, foregrounds the clash between good and evil while providing the audience with plenty of chills perfect for the Halloween season. The set by guest designer Peter Harrison features Gothic columns that tower over the action, along with a rising moon, swooping bats and other special effects.

Morey's adaptation is restrained, atmospheric and moody, with nothing over the top, although there are thrills, scares, and creepy moments throughout. In Stoker's novel, the story is told through journal entries, letters and ships' logs, which are largely transformed into narration for the stage adaptation.

Standouts in the cast include Mark Elliot Wilson as Dracula and Bob Ari as Van Helsing. Wilson has appeared previously at PMT as Cassius in Julius Caesar and as Stanley in A Streetcar Named Desire. Ari appeared in last season's PMT production of Twelve Angry Men.

Morey's adaptation premiered at PTC in 1990 and has since been produced at over a dozen theaters, including the Peterborough Players (1991) and the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis (1992). It is currently being produced at the Denver Center Theatre Company and will be produced next spring at L.A. Theatre Works. That production will be recorded and broadcast on NPR and satellite radio stations throughout the country.

Creep factor: Moderate. Not for children under age ten.

Playing now through Nov. 6, 2010

Mondays-Thursdays, 7:30 p.m.
Fridays and Saturdays, 8 p.m.
Saturday matinees:  October 30 at 2:00 p.m., November 6 at 1:30 p.m.

Pioneer Memorial Theatre
300 S. 1400 E. at the University of Utah

Tickets $24-$42

Photo by Alexander Weisman, courtesy Pioneer Theatre Company.

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