‘DRACULA’ – Vampire re-awakens in student production at Black Box Theatre

Daniel Hagberg (Van Helsing), Chris Dobson (Dracula), Michaela Ivey (Lucy Seward). Photo by Carol Carder


 Some 630,000 people visit Bran Castle in Romania each year. The inspiration for Dracula’s castle can be rented for a wedding, a soiree or a corporate event.

 One lucky couple, winners of a promotion by Airbnb, slept in the castle this Halloween. After a meal of chicken paprikash, they were treated to a night of slumber in red velvet-trimmed coffins, as in Bram Stoker’s novel “Dracula.”

If that prospect seems too spooky but you still want to enjoy the vampire legend, you can attend Pima Community College Theatre Arts’ presentation of “Dracula.”

Performances at the PCC Center for the Arts Black Box Theatre on West Campus will run Nov. 10-20. Thursday to Saturday performances are at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday matinees are at 2 p.m. Tickets cost $18, with discounts available

American Sign Language interpreters will be available Nov. 17.

Director Nancy Davis Booth has assembled a small cast of experienced student actors to bring to life Hamilton Deane and John L. Balderston’s adaptations of Stoker’s novel.

Stoker was inspired by the tales of the cruel prince Vlad the Impaler, who ruled Wallachia, Romania, in the 15th century.

Stoker attempted to create a play from the novel in 1897, but was unsuccessful. In the 1920s, Deane searched for a playwright to adapt the novel and ultimately decided to write it himself. Balderston revised Deane’s adaptation in 1927 for the American production of “Dracula.”

Deane played the role of Van Helsing when the play opened in Derby, United Kingdom, in 1924. He had intended to play the role of Dracula but Raymond Huntley was cast to portray the Count.

When Balderston’s adaptation debuted on Broadway in 1927, the role fell to an unknown Hungarian actor named Béla Lugosi.

Booth said her actors share a dedication to the process and to each other.

“These actors support each other beautifully,” she said. “Some of them work full time or take three buses to get here. But the relationships between them give them the love and trust that they share. They’re like a family.”

Booth has directed four plays (“Inherit the Wind,” “The Diary of Anne Frank,” “The Laramie Project” and “A Piece of My Heart”) and three musicals (“Curtains,” “All Shook Up” and “Fiddler on the Roof”) for PCC.

She was presented the “Outstanding Educational Award” by West Campus Student Life for her work on both “The Laramie Project” and “A Piece of My Heart.”

For the last several seasons, she has worked in other arenas and was unavailable to direct PCC productions. Booth calls “Dracula” the perfect vehicle for her return.

The production is being performed in the Black Box Theatre, which seats the audience on opposite sides of the stage. Todd Poelstra has designed a Gothic and Art Nouveau set, the centerpiece of which is a Fibonacci spiral pattern on the floor.

Special effects include video, fog and surround-sound provided by eight speakers. A steampunk look gives the story a dark edge, transforms the space and brings the audience along on a journey with the characters.

“With all of these innovative special effects, we are exploring new ways to control fundamental energy,” Poelstra said.

The special effects provide an interesting learning process for the actors and crew. The sound and lighting must all be perfected at rehearsals in the same way as the acting.

“The process is what it’s about,” Booth said. “If you have a good process, you’ll have a good product.”

For ticket information, call the box office at 206-6986 or email centerforthearts@pima.edu.


Miss Wells, maid: Beverly Ihli

Jonathan Harker: Rafael Acuña

Dr. Seward: Emily Fuchs

Abraham Van Helsing: Daniel Hagberg

R.M. Renfield: Cole Potwardowski

Butterworth: Daniel Burton

Lucy Seward: Michaela Ivey

Count Dracula: Christopher Dobson




Where: Black Box Theatre, West Campus Center for the Arts

When: Nov. 10-20

Tickets: $18, with discounts available

Box office: 206-6986

One thought on “‘DRACULA’ – Vampire re-awakens in student production at Black Box Theatre”

  1. My wife and I just attended the Nov. 12 PCC production of “Dracula” and, as usual, the Black Box Theatre presentation was superb. The cast, special effects and music was of the highest quality. I would say, the PCC cast can proudly stand up with any theatrical company, local or otherwise. This is a must see; congratulations to Director Boothe, her excellent cast and all who contributed to this effort.

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