A Terribly Terrific Tale of Terror!
The Book and Lyrics by
Mr. Doug Johnson
The Musical Score by
Mr. John Acshenbrenner
Directed for the Stage by
Mdmes. Jessie Marion & Ruth Silveira
with the legendary
Musical Direction Extraordinaire by
Mr. Ron Snyder
On the Sacred Fools Mainstage...
September 26 - November 2, 2002
Thursday, Friday & Saturday @ 8pm
Sundays 10/20 & 10/27 @ 8pm!
Dark Night Show,
for only $20!
10/12, 10/19, 10/25, 10/26, 10/27, 10/31, 11/1, 11/2 Performances
NOW SOLD OUT!!! STANDBY ONLY!!!
on by early for Waiting List, and we'll try to get
the Dazzling Talents of...
Cindy Caddel, Dean Cameron,
Melinda Cowan, Chastity DeVille,
Henry Dittman, Brad Friedman, Hiro Goto,
Mary Hayes, Joe Jordan, Cara LaGreen,
Michael Lanahan, Andrea Odinov, Bruno Oliver,
Travis Poelle, Bashir Salahuddin, Ron Snyder,
Faith Stanwick, Tyler Tanner & Hope Winteres
Chauncey DeVille & Adam Bitterman
Set & Light Design - Aaron Francis
Sound Design - J Warner
Costume Design - Tara Keenan
Hair & Make up - Sugano
Scenic Artist - Sheryl Lynn Davey
Choreography - Jessie Marion
Assistant Producer - Philip Wofford
Publicity Photographs - Desi Doyen
Stage Manager - Heatherlynn Lane
Assistant Stage Managers -
Lesley Fairman, Stephanie Dees, C.M. Gonzalez
WEEKLY - *PICK OF THE
6-feet-7-inches, human skyscraper Joe Jordan may be the tallest Dracula
ever; with his long cape, the skin-and-bones Jordan looks like he’s on
stilts, stooping to pass through doorways and sink his fangs into
victims’ necks. Jordan, who doubles as carny MC Chauncey DeVille in Doug
Johnson and John Aschenbrenner’s wicked 1973 vaudevillian musical,
segues effortlessly between demonic vampire and endearing host. Dracula
doesn’t make his foggy entrance until the end of Act 1, which plays more
like a burlesque show than horror story; Act 2 sticks to the Bram Stoker
plotline, intermittently pausing for life-giving musical numbers. Chauncey
appears with a vampy Andrews Sisters–esque backup trio (Cindy Caddel,
Cara LaGreen and Mary Hayes), who transform into bloodthirsty vampirettes.
Johnson, who wrote the book and lyrics, ingeniously tweaks some of the
familiar characters: psychiatrist Dr. Seward (the sniveling Bruno Oliver)
is a schizophrenic who constantly bickers with himself; his mentor,
vampire hunter Dr. Van Helsing (brilliant physical comedian Brad
Friedman), is a cowardly fool who mangles the English language with
malapropisms like "put zee garlic around her nose"; and
bug-eating lunatic Renfield (the wild-eyed Michael Lanahan) repeatedly
escapes from the asylum to assist Dracula in ensnaring Lucy (Melinda
Cowan) and Mina (Andrea Odinov). Though Jessie Marion and Ruth
Silveira’s expertly directed show lays on the camp, it gets deadly
serious in parts, juggling the humor, horror and drama especially well at
the bloody climax.
-- Miriam Jacobson
A Musical 'Dracula'
Brims With Laughs and Shivers
The Sacred Fools version makes effective use of showy
theatrical trappings of the 19th century.
Sacred Fools presentation of "Dracula: A Musical Nightmare" is a
Halloween haunt of a show that tickles the ribs one moment, then turns
around and sends icy fingers up the spine.
The show is
presented as a 19th century melodrama, with flourishes from the English
music hall. Its master of ceremonies is one Chauncey, ahem, DeVille (Joe
Jordan), who possesses more than a passing resemblance to the title
Eyebrows waggling like bats in flight, he sinks his teeth into his comic
In keeping with period conventions, the performances are frankly
theatrical and sometimes outright showy, as when Melinda Cowan preens
through her performance as beautiful vampire-to-be Lucy.
Comic bits involve a nerdy Jonathan Harker (Henry Dittman), who
scrupulously documents his misadventures ("These may be the last
words I ever write. More later"); a lunatic asylum doctor, John
Seward (Bruno Oliver), who seems a more likely candidate for confinement
than the calm, deliciously droll Renfield (Michael Lanahan); and a Dr. Van
Helsing (Brad Friedman) who's slow on the uptake.
Things turn spooky when Jordan steps in to replace the curiously
indisposed actor who usually plays Dracula. Dressed in black evening wear
and floor-length cape, he seems to glide out of the semidarkness. At 6
feet, 7 inches tall, he is at once scary and mesmerizing.
This show was a hit at the Zephyr Theatre in 1978. Its new staging is by
Jessie Marion and Ruth Silveira, daughter and widow, respectively, of that
production's director, Richard Marion.
-- Daryl H. Miller
- *CRITICS PICK!!!*
Stoker's durable classic remains as undead as its blood-sucking
protagonist. The thirsty Count from Transylvania could pop out of his
coffin anywhere, if the sun is down and no garlic around. Here he is
again, hypnotic headliner Chauncey DeVille, singing, dancing, charming
Music Hall patrons out of their plasma in jolly old Victorian-era England.
This intricately crafted musical (book and lyrics by Doug Johnson, musical
score by John Aschenbrenner) interweaves Stoker's plot with bawdy
music-hall vulgarity and tongue-in-cheek sentimental melodrama, and
threads it through with chilling undercurrents--a blend with the kick of
gin and bitters. Joe Jordan, the fulcrum from which the show swings, is
tall, debonair Chauncey/Dracula--flashing his killer smile in toff's
checkered jacket and bowler hat; he's later spiffy, sleek, and menacing in
formal regalia as he coos, "Evil is not as bad as all that."
Jessie Marion (who also choreographed) and her mother, Ruth Silveira,
co-directed a well-chosen ensemble. Lovely ill-fated heroines who get it
in the neck and suffer the gruesome remedy are tellingly contrasted: The
cameo delicacy of Melinda Cowan's high-trilling Lucy rivals French pastry
confections for delicious looks, with her froth of strawberry blonde curls
and petit-four pastel hues. Andrea Odinov's lushly alluring Mina, a
full-lipped beauty with satiny dark hair in a Dolores del Rio chignon, is
ever the noble gentlewoman.
The program lists an amusing but bewildering profusion of actor/character
names and aliases that could give a reviewer a headache. As I see it, it's
Bruno Oliver who's a joy and delight a la Groucho Marx, master of movement
and specialist in falls as the lunatic asylum's Dr. Seward, whose solo
drugged scene is a highlight, and whose tumbles are tops. Brad Friedman's
endearing "specialist in rare and occult diseases" Dr. Van
Helsing has a comic book Katzenjammer accent ("Never be letting her
to being alone in the night!"). Henry Dittman's ingenuous
"solicitor" Harker, so in love with Mina, is youthfully
appealing. Michael Lanahan's Renfield eats flies, and he rolls his eyes
like the elegant aesthete he would be were he not Dracula's loony slave.
Lucy's Texas cowboy suitor Quincy is a breath of fresh Western air played
by Drake Carrington.
Naughty girls posing as the music hall's chanteuse trio are bloodthirsty
Brides of Dracula: zaftig redhead Cara La Green, brunette Mary Hayes, and
tall blonde Cindy Cadell--who inexplicably replaces sturdy Bashir
Salahuddin as Seward's eye-patch-wearing lackey, Chisholm.
Music director Ron Snyder presides at the piano, Hiro Goto at the violin.
Aaron Francis designed the sets and spooky lighting. Especially fine are
hair and wigs by peerless Sugano and great costumes by Tara Keenan. J
Warner's sound is good, too.
Seek no further for where to go on Halloween. This is the place.
-- Polly Warfield
DIGITAL CITY - *TOP
Pop a garlic pill and
raise your collar for a riotous 'Dracula' spoof at Sacred Fools Theatre.
Vampires that sing, dance and suck your blood.
a dark and satirical musical adaptation of Bram Stoker's 'Dracula,' expect
all of the familiar characters including Dracula, Renfield and vampire
killer/expert Van Helsing to break into songs like 'I Must Remain Awake,'
'Nosferatu' and 'Blood Of My Blood.' The original Los Angeles production
of this play was mounted at the Zephyr back in '78 by Richard Marion. Now,
for the '02 revival, Marion's widow Ruth Silveira and daughter Jessie
(also the choreographer) take over as co-directors. Past cast members are
rumored to have mysteriously been stricken with anemia, and producer/cast
member Chauncy DeVille divulges on his website that he was born in 1857,
had a long-standing relationship with Stoker and claims he has never
performed in a matinee. If you believe all that, perhaps it's prudent to
pop a precautionary garlic pill prior to the performance. Yet, if you
scoff at the vampiric threat, by all means go garlic-free.
Los Angeles Local Guide
Dracula Sings Again…
Hallow's E'en is upon us again this very night as I perceive by the date
of this issue. Wanna celebrate? A singing, dancing, very tall (6-foot-7)
Count Dracula awaits with open cloak and bared fangs. He'd be pleased to
have you drop in for a bite and a sip or two at Sacred Fools Theater on
this night of all nights. Dracula: A Musical Nightmare couldn't be a more
appropriate Halloween option. However, it's possible the house may be sold
out, for ever-diligent publicist Philip Sokoloff declares the eerily
delicious musical is "the biggest box-office success in the entire
history of the Sacred Fools Theater Company"—so popular that
special Sunday evening performances were added.
Dracula is a day sleeper—that we know. His schedule rules out matinees.
Come sundown, though, Drac's up and about, on the prowl for new blood. The
Count's an undead killer, with a notorious bite worse than death, and we
witness this once again in Bram Stoker's classic tale of terror retold in
a wittily clever and surprisingly thrilling musical with book and lyrics
by Doug Johnson and musical score by John Aschenbrenner. Sacred Fools has
rescued the work from its long period of undeserved oblivion. First staged
in the San Francisco Bay area by a group of U.C. Berkeley thespians on
campus, then at Berkeley Rep, it got a great 1978 production in Hollywood
at the Zephyr Theatre, where I saw it, and saw it again and again because
it was such an unusual, unexpected overall delight. It also introduced me
to one of my favorite actors ever since, the marvelous Joe Spano, who
played the seductive vampire night-stalker disguised as jaunty Victorian
music hall master of ceremonies Chauncey DeVille.
The late Richard Marion directed the show in Berkeley, where Spano created
the role, and they both, along with most members of the original Bay Area
collegiate company, came with the show to Hollywood. Marion's widow, Ruth
Silveira, and their daughter, Jessie Marion, co-directed the current
Sacred Fools production. Jessie, a Sacred Fools member and an accomplished
choreographer, was 3 years old when Dracula's musical came to Hollywood
and remembers it not at all. Her mother, though, remembers it well. Among
fond memories of her husband's Zephyr venture, Silveira recalls the thrill
of its success, that it was a lot of fun, and that composer Aschenbrenner
was "temperamental." She found it especially satisfying to have
Spano in the audience at a Sacred Fools performance the other night, and
gratifying that he enjoyed this reprise of the show in which he made his
local debut so long ago.
-- Polly Warfield's Random
it’s Halloween, and if you just can’t face another miniature
super-hero demanding chocolate, try this on for size: Sacred Fools'
"Dracula, a Musical Nightmare," by Doug Johnson with a score by
John Aschenbrenner. This very British tongue-in-bloody-cheek re-telling
gets its bite from a devilishly clever, shamelessly tawdry music-hall
presentation, where songs end with a stake through the heart. Oh, this
Dracula's also got the requisite insect-eating lunatic, beautiful
innocents, hapless heroes and thickly-accented vampire experts - all of 'em
played by terrific actors (some of whom can actually sing!). But under the
direction of Jessie Marion and Ruth Silveira, this particular nightmare
really belongs to Chauncy DeVille as the Master of Ceremonies, keeper of
showgirls Faith, Hope . . . and Chastity. Of course Mr. DeVille should
have this role down, he’s been playing it for over 100 years. And doesn’t
look a day over 30. But then again, he also looks a lot like the company’s
own Joe Jordan. "Dracula" closes this weekend, so run - don’t
walk (whatever you do!) to the Sacred Fools Theatre in Hollywood.
-- Jennie Webb