Dracula, the Original Vampire Play

Calling Dracula, the Original Vampire Play “more of a mystery play than a horror play — though there are elements of each genre circling all the time,” Alley Theatre Artistic Director Gregory Boyd says it’s focused on its characters above all. “These characters are mythological by now — the Vampire King, the Victim, the Lunatic, The Doctor, the Hero, the Vampire Hunter — and, like in the Greek plays — and I make no apology for the comparison — it’s a real pleasure to watch the different versions of the story ring changes on the characters in it, even as they struggle with ultimate evil.”

Boyd said he decided to base the Alley’s version of the classic tale by Bram Stoker (who by the way worked in theater all his life, where he was an actor/manager) on the 1924 London version — which “morphed into the 1927 Broadway version (making a star of Bela Lugosi) and later platformed the famous 1931 film — though it’s very different in its storytelling.

The Count is a shape-shifter and so is his story.” Boyd, who confesses to enjoying all versions of Dracula from the cheesy to the classy, also decided to go with black-and-white drawings and photographs in keeping with the costumes and set designs by famed illustrator Edward Gorey. Gorey (his artwork appears in the opening credits of Masterpiece Theatre on PBS) was known for drawing characters who projected a touch of menace or otherness. According to Boyd, Gorey said that Dracula, which he read as a child, was one of the greatest influences on his work.

“Gorey made his designs for Dracula in the late 1970s. It was an immediate and rapturous success on Broadway mainly because it is striking and beautiful and strange, but also because it was an unexpected take on the famous tale. I saw it five times as a young actor and loved it. It’s not all black and white, by the way — there are carefully considered touches of red from time to time.” Jay Sullivan (as Dracula), James Black and Jeffrey Bean lead the cast.

7:30 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays; 8 p.m. Fridays; 2:30 and 8 p.m. Saturdays; 2:30 and 7:30 p.m. Sundays. Through November 2. The University of Houston’s Wortham Theatre, 4116 Elgin (just off Cullen Boulevard on the main campus). For information, call 713‑220‑5700 or visit alleytheatre.org. $26 to $86.

Photo by Mike McCormick
Fridays, 8 p.m.; Saturdays, 2:30 & 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2:30 & 7:30 p.m.; Tuesdays-Thursdays, 7:30 p.m. Starts: Oct. 3. Continues through Nov. 2, 2014

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