Thursday, October 29, 2015

Notes from Annie's Garden: DRACULA

By Annie Keefe
Associate Artist


Actress Kristen Hahn returns to
the Playhouse in DRACULA.
I didn’t manage to read Bram Stoker’s terrifying novel, DRACULA until I was well into my 50s- obviously an indication of a misspent youth.  When I finally got around to it, I was stunned at what a page turner it was. Over the years, I’ve seen many screen adaptations, but I’ve never seen it onstage.  I feared it would become a victim of Halloween clichés, all pointy teeth dripping blood, black capes, weird green lighting effects and howling wolves, etc.

All that changed about six months ago when I had my living room painted.  That meant taking each and every book out of the bookcases and (heaven fore-fend) dusting them. When I took down a volume called Best Mystery and Suspense Plays of the Modern Theatre I felt like a cliché myself, blowing the accumulated dust off the top of the book like something out of a movie.  I opened the book and discovered DRACULA, adapted for the stage in 1927 and started to read.  Within pages I knew it would be an excellent Script in Hand offering.  I abandoned the dusting (amazing, I know…) and read the play to the end. I felt like I had come across hidden treasure!

The script is tight and very scary.  While there are elements of humor, it is pure and simply a suspense yarn.  There will be no lighting effects, no soundscape, no black capes or bats that the audience will be actually able to see.  What there will be is a wonderful group of actors taking the audience along for an exciting ride.  And more importantly, there will be an audience that comes to these readings armed with their terrific imaginations!  The Script in Hand audience comes prepared to supply the costumes, and the sound, the lighting (and the pointy teeth!) all in their heads.  This audience values the opportunity to sit in the dark with a group of like-minded people and share a good story.  I think DRACULA will give them just that!

Kristen Hahn as Rebecca Gibbs
in OUR TOWN, 2002.
I’m particularly excited by the cast, which will feature some old friends of the Playhouse, some you’ve seen for years, and some you just met this season.  I’m particularly happy to welcome back to our stage Kristen Hahn, who will play Lucy Seward.  You first saw Kristen at the Playhouse in our 2002 production of OUR TOWN.  She played Rebecca Gibbs, and was a remarkably gifted 11-year-old actress.  Even then she knew she wanted to make acting (and singing!) her career, and her hard work and dedication in the intervening 15 years has paid off.

Kristen is currently playing opposite another Playhouse favorite, Jefferson Mays, in A GENTLEMAN’S GUIDE TO LOVE AND MURDER, on Broadway at the Walter Kerr Theatre.  I can’t wait to welcome her back to her hometown theater on November 16th. Come join the fun!

Kristen Hahn (right) with Kathy Voytko & Mark Ledbetter, performing an number from
A Gentleman's Guide to Love & Murder during Broadway in Bryant Park.

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