Hinton Battle Won't Hunt Dracula on Broadway

News   Hinton Battle Won't Hunt Dracula on Broadway The company of the new Broadway musical, Dracula, was told at its June 12 rehearsal that Tony Award-winning actor Hinton Battle had left the show by mutual agreement with producers, Playbill On-Line has learned.

Battle was in rehearsals to play vampire-hunter Van Helsing in the aborning new show that has a score by Frank Wildhorn (Jekyll & Hyde, The Scarlet Pimpernel), and book and lyrics by Christopher Hampton (Les Liaisons Dangereuses) and Don Black (Sunset Blvd., Aspects of Love). Des McAnuff (Big River, The Who's Tommy) directs.

A casting announcement for the role of Van Helsing is expected shortly. Previews begin July 19 toward an Aug. 16 opening at the Belasco Theatre.

Dracula is produced by Dodger Stage Holding and Joop van den Ende, in association with Clear Channel Entertainment.

"Dracula is a new musical vision of romance, terror and temptation based on the Bram Stoker classic novel," according to the producers. "Set in Europe at the end of the Victorian Age, the production follows Dracula's lust for new blood and a small band of mortal men and women who must face his overwhelming seduction and mesmeric supernatural powers."

Fans of Wildhorn's pulpy Jekyll & Hyde have been waiting for another gothic musical thriller to sink their teeth into, and Dracula promises to be a sexy, chilling yarn rather than a send-up of the genre (the Broadway flop, Dance of the Vampires, tried to be a spoof and ended up frustrating audiences and critics). Dracula, the Musical had a workshop in December 2003. Based on the legendary Bram Stoker character, Dracula was originally mounted at San Diego's La Jolla Playhouse in October 2001. Although the musical has been revised since that time, that staging was praised for its lush score, sexy bloodsuckers, the cast's acrobatics and for the special effects that helped heighten the thrill of the terrifying supernatural romance.

In La Jolla's Dracula, Tom Hewitt starred as the vampire count, aging backwards from a 70-year-old Transylvanian in his castle into a handsome thirtysomething seducing London's beautiful young women.

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Dracula, the Musical is the first new musical of the 2004-05 Broadway season.

Joining Tom Hewitt (The Rocky Horror Show) as Dracula and Melissa Errico (Amour) as Mina Murray will be Don Stephenson (The Producers) as Renfield, Darren Ritchie (Bells Are Ringing) as Jonathan Harker, Kelli O'Hara (Sweet Smell of Success) as Lucy Westenra, Chris Hoch (Beauty and the Beast) as Arthur Holmwood, Shonn Wiley (42nd Street) as Jack Seward and Bart Shatto (The Civil War, the national tour of The Civil War) as Quincey Morris.

The departing Hinton Battle won three acting Tonys for his respective work in Miss Saigon, Sophisticated Ladies and The Tap Dance Kid.

The company also includes Celina Carvajal, Melissa Fagan, Jenifer Foote, Anthony Holds (St. Louis Rep's The Last 5 Years) , Pamela Jordan, Elizabeth Loyocano, Tracy Miller, Graham Rowat (The Thing About Men the national tour of Les Miz), Megan Sikora (Thoroughly Modern Millie) and Chuck Wagner (the original Into the Woods).

Choreography is by Mindy Cooper. Scenic design is by Heidi Ettinger; costume design is by Catherine Zuber; lighting design is by Howell Binkley, sound design is by ACME Sound Partners. Aerial staging is by Rob Besserer, with Flying by Foy. Orchestrations are by Doug Besterman, with musical direction by Constantine Kitsopoulos.

During previews (July 19-August 14), performances are Monday-Saturday at 8 PM, with matinees Wednesday and Saturday at 2 PM. After Aug. 24, performances are Tuesday-Saturday at 8 PM, with matinees Wednesday and Saturday at 2 PM, Sunday at 3 PM. "Tuesday at 7" performances begin Sept. 7.

Tickets are on sale at www.telecharge.com or (212) 239-6200 and (800) 223 7565. Box office at the Belasco Theatre, 111 W. 44th Street, opened June 7.

Tickets for preview performances (July 19-August 14) are $60 if ordered before July 18. After opening, tickets are $101.25-$36.50.

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Director McAnuff received Tony Awards for his Broadway stagings of Big River (1985) and The Who's Tommy (1993). He directed Lee Blessing's A Walk in the Woods on Broadway in 1988 and in Moscow and Lithuania in 1989-90. He artistic director of La Jolla Playhouse.

Hewitt was Tony Award-nominated for his turn as Frank 'N' Furter in the 2001 revival of The Rocky Horror Show. His other Broadway credits include The Boys from Syracuse, The Lion King, Art and The Sisters Rosensweig as well as the national tour of Urinetown.

Errico, who recently starred in Irish Rep's Finian's Rainbow Off-Broadway, earned a 2003 Tony Award nomination for Amour. The actress has also appeared in Sunday in the Park With George (Kennedy Center Sondheim Celebration), My Fair Lady, High Society, Anna Karenina, Les Misérables and Off-Broadway's recent Aunt Dan and Lemon.

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