The University of Montana’s College of Visual and Performing Arts and the School of Theatre and Dance chose William McNulty’s play Dracula as their first production of the 2016-17 school year. Perfectly timed to coincide with Halloween, this production raises the bar on what should be an amazing season.
Perfectly directed by second year MFA candidate Joel Shura, the set was designed by UM Instructor Brian Gregoire, with costumes designed by fellow Instructor Sarah Fulford. UM students also assisted in achieving Shura’s artistic vision, including Mark Andrews on lighting design and Timothy McHenry on audio design. The show was wonderfully stage managed by fellow student Kathryn Louise.
The play is based on Bram Stoker’s original novel, Dracula, and may seem different to those who have not read the book. The play captures the allure of Dracula and Stoker’s intent on bringing this eerie story to life. Shura adds to that mystique by crafting his production to show Dracula metaphorically as a spider who traps his victims in the web he spins. That vision is readily apparent in the set design, which incorporates a maze of webs all across the stage.
While the entire ensemble was well casted, several of the actors turned in Oscar-worthy performances, the best of which was Karl Boveng as Robert Renfield, who stole the show with his perfect interpretation of this relatively minor character. Fine performances were also turned in by Kurtis Hassinger in the title role, as well as by Ryson Sparacino as Dr. Van Helsing and Hudson Therriault as the Monster, whose acrobatic skills were most evident. Annie Sacry had her moments in the role of Lucy Westphal, but was not consistent in her performance, while Zach French’s portrayal of Jonathan Harker seemed almost robotic. Kudos also to Mariclaire Bozarth as Mina Grant/the Bride, Christina Heagney as Margaret Sullivan and Sienna Faydo as the Child/Bride, who were wonderful in their portrayal of Dracula’s minions. Hunter S. Hash as Dr. Thomas Seward and Treyson Sherk as Norbert Briggs performed well in their roles.
Missoula always seems to have an abundance of shows at Halloween, with three of them this year to choose from, including MCT’s Disney’s Tarzan the Musical and the Montana Actors’ Theatre annual treat, The Rocky Horror Show. We believe that UM’s production of Dracula is just as worthy of your attention. Tickets are still available for the final two shows on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. Don’t miss it!