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Date Posted: 18:26:29 10/22/07 Mon
I was fortunate enough to attend the TVP production of Dracula last Saturday night, October 20th.
As I entered the theater, I was struck with an aura of forboding. The lighting and "thunder storm" special effects added mystery and entrigue to what the audience was in store for. Paul Kehler's initial welcome announcement was a nice touch. In his Dracula charater voice, Kehler welcomes you to "his" show and even comments about the neck of a patron in the fifth row.
The acting on the average was better than good, but only due to Kehler and Don Vecchione's outstanding performances. Both Inland veterans were totally in control while on-stage and in the driver's seat while navigating the audience throughout the scenes.
Kehler is phenomenal as "the Count". As always he delivers a performance well worth the ticket price. His accent is well rehearsed and he is a pleasure to watch. As with Vecchione, his intesity is flawless throughout; never overacted, always appropriate, and always in character. This is the first time I have seen either actor in a non-musical or non-comedic role. Both delivered their performances with expertise rarely associated with actors who can perform both genres. Bravo.
Vecchione, playing the part of Dr. Seward, was indeed the most relaxed and believable "mortal" character in the cast. His genuine concern for his daughter Lucy (played by Korie Garcia); his patient, Renfield (played by Garrett Langston); and his relationship with Professor Van Helsing (played by Ken Stocks) was evident throughout. Never once did his "proper English" accent slip and he moves with the grace of a dancer one-third his size.
Garrent Langston(Renfield)puts in a convincing performance as the tormented, "life eating maniac" and human servant of Dracula. His movents and maniacal laughter add to his charater well, but sometimes his diction is hard to understand...especially in his more "powerful" delivery monologues.
Korie Garcia(Lucy)does a credible job with her acting, as well. However, as with Langston, there is a time when phrasing and interpretation of lines doesn't seem to reflect what the writer was trying to convey. Neither Langston or Garcia have "british" accents which seems extremely unlikely for their characters.
Ken Stocks (Van Helsing) is probably the second winkest link in this chain of performers. Stocks has the greatest number of lines in the show, but they all sound the same. There is very little deviation in pace and when there is, it's usually accompanied with increased volume. Many of his lines sound garbled and it is noticeable when he makes a mistake. This is increasingly evident when he is onstage without the presence of Kehler and/or Vecchione. However, his German/Dutch accent is consistantly good and you really can understand what he is saying.
Alex Coe (Johnathan Harker) is by far the most mismatched actor within this cast. If overacting is what you paid to see, Coe is your man. His accent, when there is one, get's lost with his intesity and, like Stocks, everything sounds the same. He comes across more as a spoiled, rotten rich kid than a lover concerned about the welfare of his fiancee'.
The two minor roles of the attendant (Butterworth) and the maid (Miss Wells) played by Tony Maietta and Carissa Coss respectively, add to the overall enjoyment of the show.
Director, Leslie Vecchione, has once again done an outstanding job on the TVP stage. With the exceptions of Stocks and Coe, she has captured an essence of believability in a fictional world. Knowing of her past work which include the accliamed "Jekyll and Hyde" and last year's "Scrooge - The Musical", I am certain that Stocks' and Coe's interpretations were their own and not what she directed them to be. If this was not the case, I would be greatly surprised.
Costuming, props, sets, and special effects enhance the overall appeal of this show. My only criticsm on this end is that I didn't think the actual show lighting on Dracula's entrances was forboding enough. Too bad, since the pre-show was great and set the mood for something that just didn't happen during the performance.
There will be five more performances of TVP's Dracula this Thursday through Sunday, with two shows on Saturday, at the Old Town Temecula Community Theater. In this critics humble opinion, pardon the pun, this show doesn't "bite". TVP's "Dracula" is a definite 'Must See'.
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