Sun. Oct 30, 2011 7:30pm - 9:30pm CDT
All Ages
All Ages
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Event Description

If Hollywood, pop culture, and teenage girls are to be believed, vampires are sensitive creatures that sparkle in the sunlight and date underage females. But some 6000 years of folklore contradict this sappy new stereotype. The vampire, as cultural archetype, is older than human civilization, and is anything but sweet and sensitive.

"Vampires are the most human-like of all monsters," says Wayne Miller, writer and co-director (along with Kelly Sims) of Dracula: Lord of the Vampires, a new play debuting this October at Huntsville's Renaissance Theatre.

Indeed, a vampire is, by definition, an animated corpse that preserves its "undead" condition by drinking blood. According to legend, anyone may become a vampire after death. Yet when one utters the word, one name comes first to mind.

"Dracula is the most famous, or infamous, vampire of all time,' Miller says. "He is arguably the most recognizable (semi) fictional character in the world. The role has been portrayed on stage and screen more than any other. He's even made his way onto Sesame Street. It would be hard to find anybody, anywhere, who hasn't heard of Dracula".

When writing his play, Miller found this universal familiarity with the character to be both blessing and curse. "When people see that name up on a marquee, that's a guaranteed draw," he says. "On the other hand, everybody has either read the book or seen the movies. Whether it's from Bram Stoker's novel or the Deane and Balderston play made famous by Bela Lugosi, people know Dracula, and they know how this story goes."

Which is why Miller chose to take many of the story's conventions and "shake them up."

"All the same characters are there and the story is essentially the one from Stoker's narrative, but there are some twists. We do some things in this play that have, to my knowledge, never been done before. And, in my opinion, the changes work very well."

As far as the venue for his production, the choice for Miller was obvious. "Renaissance Theatre and I go way back," he says. "It's a great partnership." Back in October of 2009, Miller had brought to the Renaissance stage another original work inspired by a pre-existing classic, Frankenstein: The Presumption of Man. That show was both a critical and financial success, and afterward Bob Baker, owner and artistic director at Renaissance, requested more shows in the same vein. Happy to comply, Miller turned to his favorite of all the classic monsters and penned his treatment of the vampire prince.

(Be on the lookout in 2012 for another original production by Miller and Baker at Renaissance, the dark comedy How NOT to Commit a Murder.)

There is one thing, however, Miller wants to make crystal clear about his Dracula. "Evil doesn't sparkle," Miller says with a laugh. "And it never dies."

See Dracula: Lord of the Vampires at Renaissance Theatre from October 14-30 at 7:30 PM.
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Renaissance Theatre 1214 Meridian Street
Huntsville, AL 35801
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