Theatre review: Dracula The Musical? is more Brooks than Stoker

Don’t mistake this Dracula for the Frank Wildhorn Broadway musical, this one has a question mark in the title.  And while that question mark should be enough clue as to what to expect, to be perfectly clear, this Rick Abbot penned musical is more akin to Mel Brooks than Bram Stoker.

Dracula The Musical?The storyline is familiar fare as it follows the basic Stoker tale, but here it is wrapped inside a world of rubber bats, sexy costumes, silly puns and even sillier songs.  After all, this is a show where the insect-eating Renfield spontaneously bursts into a song about New Jersey.

The music is mostly uninspired and you’d be hard pressed to find anyone walking out of the theatre whistling any of its tunes.  The music seems so incidental that it could just as easily be played as a non-musical comedy; in fact it might even play better without the music which had a tendency to stop the show in its tracks.

Chelsea Powrie and Claire Rice are uniformly terrific here, easily handling Abbot’s forgettable music.  Unfortunately others don’t fare so well, but where they may not always excel in the music department they easily make up for it in the broad comedy.  Leading that comedic charge is Sean Sager as the strait-jacketed Renfield who oozes crazy with every appearance and Xavier de Salaberry is wonderfully over-the-top as the fanged man himself.  Andrew Wade brings a very funny cadence to his Van Helsing, but needs to learn to modulate his voice.

Debbie Wiecke brings an odd mix of costumes with the more traditional garb for the men juxtaposed against the much sexier corsets for the women.  While beautiful to look at, it at times felt as if the women would suddenly break out into a can-can.

Dracula The Musical? is definitely deserving of its questioning title, but as a send-up of the vampire genre that continues to fascinate, it is at times quite funny.  But as the second bit of silliness from Awkward Stage in recent months though, I’m hoping for something a little more serious next time.

3 Out of 5 Stars Dracula The Musical?

By Rick Abbot.  Directed by and musical direction by Andy Toth.  An Awkward Stage Productions presentation.  On stage at Chapel Arts through November 3, 2012.  Visit http://awkwardstageproductions.com for tickets and information.

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