Sinclair Community College’s impressively dark and disturbing production of Steven Dietz’s breezily faithful adaptation of Bram Stoker’s classic 1897 novel “Dracula” opens the organization’s 2016-2017 season on a high note.
Directed with striking fluidity and expert tone by Kimberly Borst, this “Dracula” is by no means a campy, overtly melodramatic horror show intended to make you giggle for two hours or confirm your decision to dress up as one of Stoker’s characters for Halloween. On the contrary, it’s an emotionally uneasy and outright eerie experience dramatically diving (and occasionally flying) straight to the core of examining the compelling consequences of incessant desire, unrelenting power, possessive affection, and cruel mind games within society. Thankfully, these gripping factors, revealing many unsettling truths, are executed with committed fervor from one of the most chameleonic ensembles Sinclair has assembled.
The wonderfully versatile Leo Santucci is an astutely brooding knockout navigating the titular vampire’s creepily cunning quests of love and supremacy with a sinister booming voice that’ll send shivers down your spine. He also ensures Dracula’s villainy is far from one-dimensional by layering his language-driven portrayal with melancholy, wistfulness and sly humor. Fine work extends to the dynamic Maximilian Santucci as the stalwart Van Helsing, a first-rate Jonathan Kelly as authoritative John Seward, a delightfully physical Tristan Rivera as insane Renfield (his transition at the outset is an early highlight), Gabriella Neuerer as sophisticated Mina, Sydney Baker as Mina’s spellbound best friend Lucy, Thomas Puckett as Mina’s amiable fiancé Jonathan Harker, Nick Baver and Andre Tomlinson as asylum attendants, and Chelsey Hall and Erin McGee as Dracula’s evil vixens.
Borst’s exemplary artistic team, attractively and atmospherically recreating 19th century London and Transylvania, includes set designer Chris Harmon, costumer Kathleen Hotmer, lighting designer Dan Brunk, projection designer Gina Neuerer, fight choreographer Gary Minyard, flying director William G. L. Courson, VertigoTM’s flying effects, prop designer Sarah Gomes, wig/makeup designer Brooke Watson, blood and special effects designer Kaoime E. Malloy, and sound designer Isaiah Parnell.
If you’re in the mood for thrills and chills, do not miss this terrific fright fest.
“Dracula” continues through Oct. 29 inside Blair Hall Theatre of Sinclair Community College, Building 2, 444 W. Third St., Dayton. Performances are Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., Sunday at 2 p.m., and Thursday at 7 p.m. The Sunday and Thursday performances are American Sign Language interpreted. Tickets are $18 adults and $15 student and seniors. Thursday tickets specifically cost $10. For tickets or more information, call Sinclair Box Office at (937) 512-2808 or visit www.sinclair.edu/tickets
THE OUTGOING TIDE
The Dayton Theatre Guild provides a lovely local premiere of Bruce Graham’s thought-provoking 2011 drama “The Outgoing Tide.”
Set in autumn on Chesapeake Bay, evocatively brought to life by scenic designer Fred Blumenthal and sound designer J. Gary Thompson, this poignant and relatable work chronicles the difficult, life-altering choices Gunner and Peg Concannon must face centered on Gunner’s progressive Alzheimer’s. Gunner and Peg have been married for over 50 years, but the time has come for them to take a hard look at what the future must hold. Peg doesn’t mind moving to a senior facility so she can assist Gunner’s need for long-term care, but Gunner vehemently resists. He wants to end his life on his own terms and with dignity. As discussions grow heated and the pain of the past bubbles to the surface, especially as Gunner and Peg’s only son Jack attempts to serve as mediator while coping with his own emotionally fractured household, the play forces us to recognize the value of respecting one’s wishes no matter how distressing or sorrowful.
Under Kathy Mola’s delicate direction, Graham’s trio remarkably connects. Peter Wallace, a standout last season at the Guild in “Slowgirl,” walks the fine line between conveying Gunner’s troubling mental deterioration and amusingly tapping into his opinionated, cantankerous behavior. It’s a tricky game, but Wallace admirably steps up to the plate. As Peg, Barbara Jorgensen delivers another luminous display of outstanding character-specific complexity that will break your heart. Pay heed to her sharp, perceptive work at the top of Act 2, the finest scene in the play addressing Peg’s unwavering commitment to her family, opposite the excellently understated and sensitive Matthew Smith as the conflicted, damaged Jack.
Graham, a film and TV writer who began his playwriting career at the Philadelphia Festival Theatre for New Plays in 1984, notably won Chicago’s Jefferson Award for “The Outgoing Tide.” The Guild winningly charts the play’s emotional course built on the pain of letting go.
“The Outgoing Tide” continues through Oct. 23 at the Dayton Theatre Guild, 430 Wayne Ave., Dayton. Performances are Saturday at 5 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m. Tickets are $19 for adults, $17 for seniors, and $12 for students. For tickets or more information, call (937) 278-5993 or visit www.daytontheatreguild.org