by Bram Stoker

March/April 2006

Another work dealing with the King of the Vampires? 

After countless film and stage and television adaptations and even a ballet or two, is there still life left in the Undead?  You bet.  Off the Wall Theatre’s production began twenty-five years ago when Dale Gutzman presented his unique play at the old Metropole Theatre on Oakland Avenue. It got rave revues from the newspapers and had a very successful run.  The play was again performed at University School Milwaukee a decade later. In February, 2006, Gutzman presented an updated version of the show in Bangkok Thailand featuring an international cast of actors. And then it was staged here in Milwaukee at Off the Wall Theatre, Gutzman’s tiny shoebox theatre where the environment changes for each show.

DRACULA UNDEAD is more than just another retelling of the same old story. It explores the very nature of fear itself, and the connections between fear, power and sexuality. A thirty minute film created by local artist Aaron Kopec play on and over the actors, often illustrating their thoughts and motives. The film is part live action and part animation and took months to create. Hand made puppets are also used to highlight the more spectacular moments in the show. The show’s ample violence often contains sexual overtones, Bringing to life Bram Stoker’s tortured metaphors.   In Gutzman’s version of the age old tale, modern day gypsies burdened with a terrible curse, tell the story to the theatre audience. The entire set is made up of coffins, which are piled on top of each other to create the scenery. Actors become bats and wolves. Gypsy songs are used to punctuate the action. The action also takes place in and around the audience. The play is quite adaptable. In Thailand, it was performed with twenty-three actors in a 600 seat auditorium. In Milwaukee, the cast was fifteen and the seating sixty. An hour and thirty minutes of  background music accompanied the show mixed from over a hundred sources.

Multi talented actor Karl Miller played Dracula in a performance unlike anything he has done before. He saw his Dracula as more animal than man, rising each night from the grave with only one thought in mind to feed. No tuxedos or evening dress for this vampire. Natasha Mortazavi played Mina and Julie Calteaux played Lucy, the two young women caught up in Dracula’s erotic spell. Aaron Kopec played Jonathan Harker, who not only becomes the slave of Dracula, but also of his three vampire brides. Lawrence Lukasavage and Colleen Duvall played the two gypsies who tell the tale to the audience, and  Jeremy Welter played Renfield, the madman who eats insects and rodents. Dr. Van Helsing, Dracula’s arch-enemy was played by Off the Wall Theatre’s Technical Director and sometime actor David Roper. Tom Welcenbach played Dr. Seward who runs the local asylum.  David Kaye wrote some original songs for the show, and Mark  Hagen,  Kristen Pagenkopff and Angela Johnstad played Dracula’s undead slaves.

This production was co-produced by Off The Wall Theatre and  Nagasaki Gold

Read the first part of Dale's original script for 
Dracula Undead
before you see it!
click here

Nagasaki Gold 
is helping to bring
to life! 
in Bangkok, Thailand!
click here