Just in time for Halloween, Iowa Shakespeare Experience is swooping into Waukee with the Gothic tale, Dracula Evermore. Audience members are invited to let the imagination run wild with mystery as they travel with Count Dracula from Transylvania to England midst conflict with Professor Van Helsing and Jonathan Harker. Victorian props and costume will converge on stage with haunting, dramatic music and the aura of candlelight to set the stage of the Waukee Area Arts Council’s ArtsCentral.
Lorenzo Sandoval, ISE artistic director, said the company chose to present the story of Dracula because of the compelling plot and amazing theatrical qualities.
“It reflects enduring, universal themes: the excesses of pride, the terrible temptations of dominance over others, the battle between science and the supernatural, the power of faith and the divine beauty of redemption,” Sandoval said.
Sandoval served as the director, adaptive playwright, and co-executive producer for this version of the famous tale.
Professional actors bring a mature, three-dimensional dynamic to their characters. Starring as the brooding fearsome Dracula is Matt Wiggins. John Zickefoose takes the role of the brilliant, fearless scientist, Van Helsing, and Marie Schmidt plays the strong-willed, virtuous heroine, Mina Harker.
Sandoval said for this adaptation he felt strongly about retaining Bram Stoker’s literary structure of the 1897 novel including diary entries, letters, telegrams and newspaper accounts.
“For this production I incorporated Stoker’s epistolary conceit to provide a storytelling framework, and I combined it with vivid, in-the-moment action and dialogue that spring from the letters and journals,” Sandoval said providing insight into the style of the show.
Sandoval said this will be ISE’s third production of Dracula; the first was in 2013.
“It has evolved over the years,” Sandoval explained. “In the beginning, the production’s style was more like reader’s theatre and now the play is kinetic and operates on several levels. The relationships are sharply defined, the dialogue is vivid and the action is dynamic.”
ArtsCentral is a fitting venue for the show as the Dracula story is an old Victorian tale with a great deal of spirituality and references to Christian symbolism, according to Robin Heinemann, ISE executive director.
“To set the story in the sweeping space of Waukee Arts Council’s historic church building suits the story so well on multiple levels; there is a synergy with an historic time period as well as with any spiritual overtones the structure has,” Heinemann added.
ArtsCentral also offers a “theater-in-the-round” setting—meaning the audience surrounds the performers on all sides for the “salon style” performance. Heinemann said Dracula, along with other productions in the ISE indoor series, offers a notably intimate experience, more so than a typical stage show where the audience is often far away from the action.
Dracula Evermore runs just under two hours, in two one hour acts, with an intermission break of 20 minutes. During intermission a festive table will be set with seasonal treats, cookies, spiced cider and coffee. There will also be a cash-donation wine bar.
Heinemann, who also served as co-executive producer and headed set lighting and costume design, said that the production has built quite a reputation for itself since the show’s inception resulting in an incredible number of return customers.
“Each year we also add new fresh little twists to the way we perform the story—precisely for our wonderful repeat guests,” Heinemann said. “People say it just gets better and better, and they didn’t think it could since it was so great the first time around!”
Plus, if there were ever a reason to see the show this year it may be the last.
“Due to the level of excited response, we anticipate that this will likely be the final year we will run this show in the Metro area,” Heinemann offered. “Next year, we anticipate taking it ‘on the road’ to other areas of Iowa, so we encourage Waukee residents to come while the play is in their own backyard!”
Because of adult themes the show is not necessarily recommended for children under the age of eight. However, Heinemann said, “Children do respond very well to the show; any child who is able to sit still and wonder at the magic of live theatre is welcome.”
Heinemann summed up why this is the perfect production to set the tone for the Halloween holiday.
“This is a beautiful, dreamy and imaginative celebration of Halloween—in a smart, entertaining and sophisticated way. No one ‘jumps out at you’ in this show and yet, you are captivated by action as up close and personal as it can be,” Heinemann said of the unique experience.
Let your imagination run wild with mystery and fear this Saturday, October 24, at 7:30 p.m. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.
Tickets are $30 for VIP (best seating), $20 for general admission adults and $10 for youth (ages 10-16). Tickets may be purchased online at RedTruckTickets.com, at Waukee Hardware, at 380 Sixth St. or at the theater doors as available.
Any questions? Contact the Waukee Area Arts Council at 515-402-7870.