So fitting for Halloween season approaching, The Coterie’s current show, Dracula: The Journal of Jonathan Harker, presents a one-man dynamic performance of acting expertise, physical movement, and creepy storytelling to the delight of the audience who rewarded the actor a standing ovation.
Dracula opened Oct. 13 at The Coterie, Kansas City’s nationally recognized theater for young audiences, but judging from the audience, the theater attracts more adults than children. The story of Jonathan Harker appeals to the young at heart, regardless of age. The story of Count Dracula and his thirst for blood continues to be the basis for all the subsequent vampire movies and horror stories. The Coterie’s production does an astounding job of presenting the story of the Bram Stoker 1897 Gothic novel.
At The Coterie, just sit back and know the show will appeal to all ages. Rest assured adult language never occurs, and all productions encourage family-friendly audiences. With most shows about an hour in length, weekday performances welcome bus loads of students from the metro area who need to experience live theater specifically directed toward their interests.
Dracula: The Journal of Harker depicts the live action full story of the famous book with main characters all portrayed and developed by Zachary Andrews under the direction of the Coterie’s Jeff Church. The script minimalizes the characters and countless pages of description to take the audience directly into Dracula’s lair, his creepy Gothic, morbid castle.
Church’s masterful direction of the truly talented and focused Andrews keeps the play dark, intense, sharp, and detailed with no distractions. Because of the creative teamwork to create a working set, realistic props, clever lighting, sharp sound and background noised, artistic blocking, a costume that allows for gymnastic movements without distracting from the characters, and stage management, the piece stays true to the original Stoker novel. Andrews’ gymnastic movements around and through the set does not break the flow of the story for even a second.
Andrews said after the show that the show’s tandem production in Florida runs concurrently with the Kansas City show. The show was developed and workshopped in Florida and now the tandem productions entertain audiences.
Andrews, originally from Denver, leaves all traces of his Midwest life far behind as he creates the cast of Dracula. He is English, without a flaw, at Jonathan Harker. He is Count Dracula of Transylvania with accent resembling Bela Lugoui’s from the original movie. He takes on a Texas drawl for one of the vampire hunters. He’s a different voice and accent for Van Helsing. All in all, Andrews is phenomenal in a tour-d-force, 75 minute retelling of the Dracula legend.
With one costume, and only a few props, Andrews creates other personalities within the piece. He does not rely solely on dialect, but rather changes stance, voice, delivery and other tricks to keep the various characters separate. His dialogue delivery is quick, responsive to the changes in characters, and never wavers as he morphs from one character to another and back.
In Dracula: The Journal of Jonathan Harker, Andrews portrays: Jonathan Harker, an old woman, Count Dracula, a newspaper man, Mina Harker, Sister Agatha, Dr. Van Helsing, Arthur Quincey and Renfield. Each is a different voice, pitch, physical demeanor. Each change comes quickly and sharply without wandering into campy/
Dracula: The Journal of Jonathan Harker, a feast for those who enjoy the darkness of a Gothic thriller, enthralls audiences from the onset. The idea that the entirety of the Bram Stoker thick novel condenses to a one-man show without losing any of the eerie, morbid, dark features entertains all who attend. And, even with the darkness of the plot, audiences laughed at some of the lighter moments throughout the piece.
A few of the younger audience members reacted will when in one scene, rodents were loosened on the floor (via lighting spots of red and green). They could be seen drawing their feet up to their seats and then summoning their bravery reach for the floor to see if there live vermin actually existed. A quick smile ensured their safety.
Dracula: The Journal of Jonathan Harker comes with highest recommendation for children and the young at heart who enjoy a spooky yarn so appropriate for the Halloween season. The show entrenches the audience in a Gothic dark tale of the supernatural and fully entertains. No one leaves disappointed with the production, the creative staff that designed and directed, and the actor who wore the characters he portrayed.
Running through Nov. 2, Dracula: The Journal of Jonathan Harker should not be missed if you enjoy good, live theater. For tickets, times, and more information check the website: thecoterie.org.