The first vampire-themed musical in the United States this year spreads its wings in Ohio Feb. 21, when composer Richard Oberacker and librettist-lyricist Michael Lazar's Dracula — The Game of Love opens in a world-premiere student staging at the prestigious College Conservatory of Music in Cincinnati.
Including the Ohio staging, Count Dracula will sing in no less than three different musical versions of the 1897 gothic novel by Bram Stoker in 2002: Frank Wildhorn's Dracula, the Musical is aiming for Broadway in fall 2002, and North Shore Music Theatre in Massachusetts will stage a Canadian penned Dracula, a Chamber Musical, in October. There is also the planned Broadway staging of Dance of the Vampires coming in fall 2002.
CCM musical theatre chair and professor-director Aubrey Berg stages Dracula — Game of Love, Feb. 21-March 3, at University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. The show was planned months ago, before Frank Wildhorn, Christopher Hampton and Don Black's Dracula was announced for Broadway, and before the decision by NSMT in Beverly, MA, to stage Richard Ouzounian and Marek Norman's Dracula, a Chamber Musical. The source material is the horror novel by Stoker, about the undead count whose prey includes Victorian Britishers.
Oberacker and Lazar are alums of CCM. They penned the recent world premiere of The Gospel According to Fishman for the Signature Theatre in Arlington VA. It began Jan. 8 and continues to Feb. 24. Their credits for the show reads "music by Richard Oberacker, book and lyrics by Michael Lazar and Richard Oberacker."
Choreography is by Diane Lala and musical direction is by Roger Grodsky. The musical will be presented at the Patricia Corbett Theater in Cincinnati, OH. Designers are Paul R. Shortt (set) and Dean Mogle (costumes), Elizabeth Zernechle (lighting), Chuck Hatcher (sound). The 36-actor show is said to follow the novel closely and focuses on the emotional and sexual awakening of Mina Murray, the Count's object of desire. Angela Gaylor (North Shore Music Theatre's Julie Jordan in Carousel) plays Mina in a cast made up of conservatory students. Dracula is played by John Andrew Clark, Jonathan is played by Jason Patrick Sands, Renfield is Barry James, Lucy is Annie Leri, with Blake Ginther and Will Ray rounding out the principals. The piece is constructed in classic "book musical" form and features a score based heavily in the late-romantic style of the story's late 19th century period — lush, sophisticated, melodic. The authors began writing the show in 1993 and completed a fully orchestrated demo recording in 1995, featuring Alice Ripley, Lauren Kennedy and Merwyn Foard.
The Cincinnati College-Conservatory's list of distinguished alumni includes such musical theatre pros as composer Stephen Flaherty, Faith Prince, Marcia Lewis, Lee Roy Reams, Michelle Pawk, Vicki Lewis, Matt Bogart, Jessica Boevers, Lauren Kennedy and more. Visit CCM at www.ccm.uc.edu/musical_theatre.
According to the CCM website, the 400-seat Patricia Corbett Theatre features a modified thrust stage with a 42-foot proscenium arch. Designed by Ming Cho Lee, this theatre has a Bayreuth-style pit and steeply raked seating that creates an intimate relationship between actor and audience. In this space, the musical theatre program performs musicals ranging from the standard repertoire to new works, from "classic" musicals to rock pieces. Past productions in the Patricia Corbett Theatre include Cabaret, Chess, The Baker's Wife, Little Me, Hair, The Hot Mikado, Assassins, Man of LaMancha, Chicago, Grand Hotel and Passion. The Patricia Corbett Theatre is also home to CCM's award winning summer series Hot Summer Nights which presents three musicals in rotating repertory each year.
Signature Theatre in Arlington, VA, is staging the world premiere of Oberacker and Lazar's new musical, The Gospel According to Fishman, starring E. Faye Butler and directed by Signature artistic director Eric Schaeffer.
The Gospel According to Fishman, tells the story of Alan Fishman, a young Jewish composer from Brooklyn writing spiritual music for a black gospel choir led in voice and spirit by Nehi Taylor (Helen Hayes Award nominee Butler). "Searching for his own voice while struggling with an interracial love affair during the height of the civil rights movement, Fishman follows the choir to Birmingham, AL, to protest the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church," according to the Signature announcement. "Standing at one of the most explosive turning points in history, Fishman is forced to decide what he believes and where he belongs."
Composer Oberacker is credited with co-writing The Gospel According to Fishman's book and lyrics with Lazar.
For ticket information to the 11-performance run of Dracula — The Game of Love, call (513) 556 4183.
— By Kenneth Jones