Dracula Still Hoping to Take a Bite Out of Bway in 2002-2003

News   Dracula Still Hoping to Take a Bite Out of Bway in 2002-2003
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The Dracula poster outside the Ford Center for the Performing Arts, on 43rd Street.

Posters are popping up around the New York theatre district for Dracula, the Musical, the incoming Frank Wildhorn-Don Black-Christopher Hampton show that was a sold-out, extended success at the La Jolla Playhouse in fall 2001.

Where and when the special-effects-rich show will alight is not yet known, however. A spokesman told Playbill On-Line April 30 it's an issue of theatre availability. It was confirmed that producers Dodger Theatricals, Clear Channel Entertainment and Nederlander Presentations are still aiming for the 2002-2003 season, and the show might happen by fall depending on the availability of an appropriate house.

Des McAnuff (The Who's Tommy, Big River) directs, as he did the show's world premiere in La Jolla. Dracula closed in La Jolla Nov. 25, 2001, and the Broadway producers announced at that time the plan to take it to Broadway in fall 2002. The new posters show a female figure in repose, painted in classical chiaroscuro fashion, focusing on the subject's chin and neck. The poster reads, "DRACULA THE MUSICAL" and "Coming soon to leave its mark." (Look for the poster on the wall of the Ford Center for the Performing Arts, along with other show posters.)

Composer Frank Wildhorn became a theatrical force with his scores for Jekyll & Hyde, The Scarlet Pimpernel and The Civil War on Broadway. Among projects on his plate is the musical, Camille, based on the life of sculptress Camille Claudel, intended as a project for his wife, Linda Eder.

In a statement in fall 2001, producer Michael David of Dodger Theatricals said, "We are delighted with the outstanding production of Dracula that Des and the creative team have put together at the La Jolla Playhouse. Our partners and the team now agree that with some further development this spring, we will have a truly extraordinary new American musical to present on Broadway in the fall of 2002."

No Broadway cast has been announced, but observers suggest that the flashy staging and the brand-name of the title are pure gold beyond any star casting.

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In La Jolla, 2001 Tony nominee Tom Hewitt (The Rocky Horror Show, The Lion King) starred as the vampire count, aging backwards from a 70 year-old Translyvanian in his castle into a handsome 30-something seducing London's beautiful young women.

That includes Mina, the fiance of Dracula's solicitor, Jonathan Harker, and Mina's flirtatious friend, Lucy. Harker was played by Tom Stuart with Jenn Morse as Mina and Amy Rutberg (The Civil War on tour) as Lucy. Also in the cast were Joe Cassidy, Chris Hoch and Lee Morgan as Lucy's suitors, Jack Seward, Arthur Holmwood and Quincy Morris. Tom Flynn (How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, The Who's Tommy) was the vampire hunter Van Helsing. William Youmans (Titanic, Big River) played a former solicitor with Harker's company who is driven mad by Dracula. Dracula was accompanied by a chorus of vampiresses played by Jenny-Lynn Suckling, Lynnette Marrero, Jodi Stevens and Margaret Ann Gates.

Songs in the score included "Fresh Blood," "How Do You Choose?," "There is a Love," "Prayer for the Dead," "The Heart is Slow to Learn," "Before the Summer Ends" and two romantic ballads for Dracula and his victim Mina, "There's Always a Tomorrow" and "I'll be Waiting for You."

Mindy Cooper (Titanic) choreographs. Atlantic Records has already promised an original cast recording.

Christopher Hampton (Les Liaisons Dangereuses, Savages) and Don Black collaborated on the book and lyrics. Black's previous theatrical experience includes several Andrew Lloyd Webber projects—the Tony Award-winning Sunset Boulevard, Aspects of Love and Tell Me on a Sunday, the sung part of Song and Dance. He won an Academy Award for the song "Born Free." He and Hampton worked together on Sunset.

Designers for Dracula are John Arnone (sets), Catherine Zuber (costumes), Howell Binkley (lighting), ACME Sound Partners (sound). Orchestrations are by Michael Starobin, with musical direction by Constantine Kitsopoulos.

— By Kenneth Jones
and Christine Ehren