Lucy Westfall, played by Julia Sanford, and Count Dracula, played by Eric Jett, rehearse for Thursday's opening Tuesday evening.

‘Dracula’ to offer frightfully fun experience for playgoers

BUCKHANNON – Count Dracula has found his home in the historic Colonial Theatre this Halloween season.

The Buckhannon Community Theatre’s highly anticipated production of “Dracula” opens today, Thursday, Oct. 24 and runs through Sunday, Oct. 27. All performances are slated for 7 p.m. at the Colonial Theatre.

The director of the production, Jeremiah Smallridge, said the script is a little different from the original story, based on the 1897 Gothic horror novel by the same name, with a couple names switched and the portrayal of Dracula changed up a bit.

“It’s a fun script,” Smallridge said. “It’s a story that everyone knows, but the script is fun because it doesn’t romanticize the character at all. They very much make him a villain and a monster, so it’s interesting to see that and not the over-romanticized version that we’re used to seeing on TV.”

So how does the play, which was adapted by William McNulty, progress? What’s it all about?

“In the story Jonathan Harker has come up missing after traveling to Transylvania to sell some land to Count Dracula,” Smallridge said. “Back home, unbeknownst to him, Dracula is in London and is seeking to turn his fiancé, Lucy, into a vampire. He has already murdered her friend, Mina, and he’s kind of wreaking havoc in London.”

“A group of characters come together to try to figure out why Lucy is sick and what has happened to Mina and what’s happening in their town,” Smallridge added. “They discover that Dracula is the vampire that’s causing all the issues, and they call for the help of Van Helsing to take down this threat.”

The actor who plays Dracula, Eric Jett, said he’s excited to put his own spin on such an iconic character.

From left, Doug Seckman plays Van Helsing, while Dannie Stiles stars as Renfield, an insane asylum patient.

“I enjoy it a lot because I get to work with these guys, and they’ve made it a lot more fun to be him,” Jett said. “I’m always typecast as a villain, it seems, and I enjoy doing it, but this has been such a storied character that has been portrayed time and time again on stage, on screen, everywhere.”

Ethan Butler, the actor playing Jonathan Harker, said the play is a mix of fright and fun.

“‘Dracula’ is a classic,” Butler said. “It’s got scary moments, it’s got fun moments, and I think there are parts of it that are really for everybody. It’s got enough to keep adult audiences on the edge of their seats and younger audiences engaged in the story for maybe the first time if they’ve never read the book before.”

Smallridge said the he has enjoyed working with the cast, and people looking for quality acting will enjoy the production.

“The cast is great,” Smallridge said. “We have some new faces that I haven’t worked with before, and we have some folks that I’ve spent a lot of time with. It was a fun time with very hardworking people and some very giving people, who not only gave of their time and talents, but also helped fund the show and brought props and helped us advertise.”

Butler said cast members have worked as a team throughout the whole production, whether it was as actors on stage or in set preparation.

“It’s been a lot of work, but I’ve really enjoyed working with the actors because it’s been a close-knit group since it’s a small cast and it’s kind of an ensemble cast,” he said. “We all have about the same amount of stage time.”

“We’re all back there together, having a great time together and I’ve really gotten to know everybody that I’ve worked with on the play and we’ve also worked together on the stage construction,” he added. “It’s been a real team effort.”

Butler also said their venue, the Colonial Theatre, has come a long way.

“It’s still under construction, but it is certainly coming along,” Butler said. “I was in here last summer to promote ‘Rock of Ages’ and even from then it’s come a very long way, and I know there’s still a lot of funding that needs to happen, but I can definitely tell that the place is improving, and I can see that it’s certainly on the way to being a very nice venue.”

Tickets are $10 at the door or may be purchased online at the BCT’s website or by clicking here.

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