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KU Theatre To Stage a New Adaptation of Dracula

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

You may think that you know the story of Count Dracula, but you’ve never seen anything quite like what you’ll see when the curtain rises on the University Theatre’s new adaptation of “Dracula” in the Crafton-Preyer Theatre of Murphy Hall, 1530 Naismith. Performances run October 4-5 and 18-19 at 7:30 p.m. and October 6 and 20 at 2:30 p.m.

Tickets for “Dracula” are on sale now at KU ticket offices and online at www.kutheatre.com. Tickets are also available by calling the University Theatre, (785) 864-3982, and the Lied Center at (785) 864-ARTS. “Dracula” tickets are $18 for the public, $17 KU staff and senior citizens, and $10 for students and children 5-18.

This iconic legend swoops into the University Theatre for the first time with chills, thrills and vengeance. Taking root from Bram Stoker’s original 1897 Gothic novel, this fresh adaptation of “Dracula” features a suspenseful script by Associate Professor of Theatre Dennis Christilles, who also serves as director and scenic designer of the production.

Jonathan Harker (Tim Wilkinson, Shawnee senior), a solicitor for an English real estate broker, returns from a trip to Transylvania and becomes wrapped up in the mysterious illness of the beautiful Lucy Westenra (Laura Brooke Williams, Lawrence alumna). When Doctor Van Helsing (John Staniunas, professor of theatre) is called in and realizes a vampire is to blame, Jonathan vows to hunt down the daunting Count Dracula (Joe Lilek, Bethesda, Md., sophomore) in order to protect his wife and friends.

The first stage production of Stoker’s “Dracula” opened in 1897 at the Lyceum Theatre in London. Since then, the iconic character has appeared in more than 200 stage and screen adaptations. Christilles' new script captures the structure and tone of Stoker's original novel, which has ignited audiences' imaginations for generations.

For Christilles, bringing “Dracula” to the University Theatre stage has been a desire since he came to KU in 1994. Christilles said that the passion and intensity of Stoker’s novel provided the perfect inspiration for a new, thrilling production.

“I’ve always loved the [original] novel, and every time I came back to the story Stoker spoke to me in a different way.” Christilles said. “The text is more than 100 years old, but the comprehensive tale is ageless and just as relevant today as when it was originally written.”

According to Christilles, the original “Dracula” highlighted poignant issues like women’s rights, medical advances, and our inner xenophobic biases. Christilles hopes audiences will connect with the overarching conflict between good and evil and walk away with an enriched appreciation for Count Dracula’s tale.

“When it comes down to it, it’s a perfect, exciting play for us to start off the season with because of the spooky atmosphere ‘Dracula’ provides.” Christilles said. “Underneath the pop culture element, these characters are real human beings acting on their own instincts and protecting the ones they love.”

This University Theatre production includes an ensemble of 17 performers playing a variety of roles. Alison Christy, Detroit doctoral student, is assistant directing the production and Megan Lethbridge, Dallas junior, is stage managing. Julia Ubert, Sedalia, Mo. MFA student, is the lighting and costume designer. Paul Meier, professor of theatre, is the dialect coach.

Additional cast members include Christoph Nevins, Olathe sophomore, as Arthur Holmwood; Kevin Seiss, Wichita junior, as Quincy Morris; Michael Miller, Leawood senior, as Dr. John Steward; Joshua A. Greene, Albany, Mo., junior, as Renfield; Caroline Collett, Marion sophomore, as Nurse Jenkins; Krista Jarboe, Girard sophomore, as Mina Harker; Ashton Wilkin, Lenexa sophomore, as Masha; Elissa Bowen, Kansas City, Mo., freshman, as Olga; Abby Sharp, Rossville freshman, as Irina; Blair Lawrence Yates, Canterbury, England, junior, as Servant; Logan Duck, Little Rock, Ark., freshman as Servant; Jacquelyn O’Connor, Burlington freshman as Servant; and Bronwen Capshaw, Burbank, Calif., freshman, as Servant.

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