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REVIEW: Another Look at Dracula‘s Bite (COLLIDE)

The cast of COLLIDE Theatrical Dance Company’s Dracula

COLLIDE Theatrical Dance Company reprises its 2016 production of Dracula for the Halloween season at the Ritz Theatre. I decided to see it because I have been interested in Dracula-themed productions ever since I learned that my paternal grandfather was originally from Romania’s Transylvania region. Regina Peluso and Joshua Campbell created the production; Peluso serves as choreographer and Campbell is consulting director. Through both song and dance, the production provides a retelling of the Dracula story set in New York City. The result is a very entertaining and fast-moving production.

Dracula (Michael Hanna, right) courts Mina (Renee Guittar).

The performance lacks any spoken dialogue; the program synopsis and a few projected newspapers are all the back story and explanation provided. The program begins with what appears to be a rather bored Dracula (Michael Hanna) moving to New York City. He spies Mina Harker (Renee Guittar), a young woman who is in happily married to Jonathan Harker (Cameron Meilicke) – a realtor who happens to sell a condo to Dracula. Dracula’s minion Renfield (Regina Peluso) is captured by authorities and detained in a mental asylum under the care of Dr. Van Helsing (Russ Benson) and Dr. Seward (Erik Hunder). Dracula shows up at the wedding of Mina’s friend Lucy (Andrea Mislan) and Arthur Holmwood (Patrick Charles Jeffrey). Dracula is smitten with Mina, inspiring his singing of the pop tunes “I Want You to Want Me” and “Every Breath You Take”. His efforts to woo her are interrupted when Harker rejoins his wife at the ceremony. The ensuing events results in Dracula’s demise, along with the usual collateral carnage to others.

Hanna’s sexually appealing but menacing presence cast a specter over the entire stage. This Dracula is an outsider from the others: he is the only one who does not dance, although his athletic movements often creates the illusion of dance. In addition to Hanna’s seductive singing voice, the audience is treated to the rocking vocals of band singer Katie Gearty, who belts out tunes like “We Will Rock You”. Peluso clearly delights in playing a disturbingly manic female version of Renfield. Mislan takes center focus mid-show as the seductive and the newly created vampire Lucy.

The production flows from scene to scene, but there are a couple of dances where the steps become repetitive. One of the more exciting scenes occurs when the other cast members surround Dracula and engulf him with their movements. The dancers often flow up and down the aisles, especially in chase scenes; one feels compelled to turn one’s head to both watch the action and avoid being bitten by a rabid Renfield (!). It’s a memorable version of the Dracula legend.

Dracula plays at the Ritz Theater in Minneapolis, MN through November 12, 2017.

Bev Wolfe

Bev Wolfe is a Staff Reviewer at the Twin Cities Arts Reader. She is an attorney and avid theatre fan who has written theatre reviews for local publications since 2008. She is also an Ivey Awards evaluator.

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