Oct 31, 2011

Dracula at the Esplanade

Over the weekend my family and I went to Esplanade Theatre in downtown Medicine Hat to see Dracula.  My friend Paul had a role in the production and we were all happy to see him on stage again.  He's always been interested in theatre so he was the really the reason we all decided to go.

The show had its moments, but if I'm honest, it was a bit hit and miss.  I was very impressed with the range of vocal talent in the show, and there were several stand out solos from the female leads that were expertly delivered.  There was a lot of inconsistency however, and some of the performers were either off-key or marginalized by an orchestra that occasionally hit a few sour notes.  

Whenever the ensemble performed together the show was at its best.  These were scenes that were clearly rehearsed the most thoroughly and they didn't disappoint.  I just wished there was more of them.  The problem with Dracula being a dramatic musical is that without more aggressive direction the show falls into familiar stereotypes that have been played to death.  It felt a bit slow and redundant at times and I think a lot of us were hoping for some parody or moments of levity to break up the relatively straightforward plot arch.

The role of Dracula seemed to be cast based on the vocal talents of the gentleman who played him, but he really didn't look the part.  The costumes also seemed like painful knock-offs from the nineties movie of the same title.  I felt the other leads were much more suited to their roles.

Paul did a great job and his scenes were some of the most entertaining.  He was funny, which the audience really seemed to enjoy, and he sounded great. 

In the end, Dracula had some obvious weaknesses, but it wasn't because the production was lacking talent.  It just seems the concept had no new or original ideas to bring to the stage and it's tough to pull off a familiar story when you're trying to make it resemble the ones that were already largely successful.  It's also the problem with local productions being that they just don't have the budget to allow their actors to rehearse as freely as other professional shows do. 

But hey, I don't want to be too harsh, it was a good enough reason for the family to spend time together and get into the spirit of Halloween. I just know this theatre company is capable of better.  

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