Greetings Theater Lovers,
On Wednesday July
18th, I saw Dracula at
the Belasco Theater.
I was accompanied
by a group of friends, all New Yorkers.
Dracula is the latest musical extravaganza
from Frank Wildhorn (Jekyl and
Hyde, The Scarlet Pimpernel),
with book and lyrics by Christopher
Hampton and Don Black, music by
Frank Wildhorn and direction by
Des McAnuff (Tommy).
as everyone must know, is based on the
novel by Bram Stoker. "Dracula"
has a superb cast, a few of whom are:
Tom Hewitt as Dracula, Melissa Errico
as Mina Murray, Kelli O'Hara as Lucy Westenra,
Stephen McKinley Henderson as Van Helsing
and Don Stephenson as Renfield.
liked it a lot more than my friends did.
were uniformly unimpressed. Their gut
reaction is summed up by these words, "How
hokey!" But they were much kinder
than the New York critics who have uniformly
piled on this show. My favorite bad review
quote was from Ben Brantley (New York
Friday August 20th), who said that the
show has, "...all the animation,
suspense and sex appeal of a Victorian
waxworks in a seaside amusement park." Ouch!
But here is the funny
thing. I have a fondness for Victorian
wax works and Mr. Brantley is right, the
show is definitely a Victorian tableau.
It was beautiful - the sets, the lights
and the costumes were all stunning. Gorgeous
vampirettes, in white Victoria's-Secret-like
boudoir sets, flew across the purple stage.
The Vampire flew. The sets popped up out
of the floor. Yes, the story is very vanilla
pudding, but the kind of vanilla pudding
you eat in an overblown French restaurant
Now I personally
like my vampires either campy (George
Hamilton in Love at First Bite)
or erotic (Frank Langella in Dracula
and just about anything else). If you
have a bat flying through a window to
seduce a heroine who is lying in bed with
her husband, the scene better be really
hot or incredibly funny, or both. Wildhorn's
version of Dracula is neither.
He is presenting Dracula as a
children's tale, but he is presenting
it to grown-ups in New York City, and
that bat isn't going to fly here. After
all, New Yorkers are the people who loved
William Dafoe and John Malkovitch in Shadow
of a Vampire.
doesn't matter. All Mr. Wildhorn has
do is survive New York for a moderate
period of time and then he will be able
to TOUR, where he will make bucket loads
of money from the rest of the world.
over this United States, women are gathering
up their children, girlfriends, mothers,
aunts and husbands (if they are good
husbands) and taking them to every musical
hits town, because musicals are good
clean fun and they are Culture and Culture
good for you. I am from Texas (I moved
here 9 years ago) and I attended musicals
all my life - community theater musicals,
high school musicals, church musicals,
touring musicals - it didn't matter,
it was a musical and we attended. Most
the musicals were not that wonderful,
but you went because you were a middle
class Texan and that is just what you
just checked the internet and saw that
Mr. Wildhorn's other much-maligned-by-New
York-critics musical, Jekyl and Hyde,
is touring the world - playing Seoul,
South Korea in August and then moving
on to England. So, get over it New York.
The days when New York critics could make
or break a show are long gone. Now excuse
me why I get some tickets for Mama
Mia. I have some cousins coming to
town and they didn't catch Mama Mia
when it played Dallas (the Cowboy must
have been playing that weekend), so they
are coming to New York for a culture fix.
Rock on! - Wendy