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Review of Dracula

DRACULA, A Dangerously Close Dance

Wow the ISLAND MOVING COMPANY’S huge production of DRACULA at the CAREY MANSION is fantastic and totally worth the price of a ticket ($90.00) if you can afford it. It’s cool, period, sexy, bohemian and soooo NEWPORT.

That ‘DARK SHADOWS’ house is just the best setting for this MIKI OLSEN piece. I’ve seen SEAVIEW many times before but it’s unrecognizable here. ANNIE SHERMAN LUKE of NEWPORT LIFE MAGAZINE was in the audience. She’d seen the show a few times and said she loved it, eyeing the mansion’s architectural details as we spoke. It’s a much better venue than if it were done on stage, each room offering up a different, wild backdrop. The entire place is lit-up all Halloweenie, chandeliers a flickering, the mansion’s eccentricities being a big part of the show! MIKI OLSEN, the ballet director said she loved staging it there.

A live mini-ORCHESTRA with the young composer, FELIX VENTAUROUS who fares from N.Y. (East village), plays his STRAVINSKY-esque score on the piano with a bunch of young musicians, a super-fun PERCUSSIONIST and a STRING QUARTET. Surprisingly, my cousin, JOHN BENDER (Susan Walsh Bender’s son, Ray’s daughter), who just graduated from music school last year was playing CELLO.

These guys are all over the place, up on balconies, staircases, this room, that room, while dancers hide behind that weird GOTHIC architecture warning you,” Don’t Go In There, Don’t Go In There!” It’s a fresh, fun, inter-active show (thus the “ Dangerously Close” caption on the tickets).

A silent black-and-white movie pops-up as part of the narrative. One scene incorporates these sort of Cirque-De-Soleil acrobatics over a doublebed that’s scary. Freaked me out! These guys and gals are about 3 flights up on the ceiling, twisting and turning and it’s un-nerving (“Please don’t fall”).

JASON STOTZ, the sexy, good looking lead as DRACULA, red cape flowing, is an excellent dancer, along with his 2 (3?) female leads, pretty BROOKE DeFRANCESCO, long time I.M.C. dancer CHRISTINE SANDORFI and a dancer I‘d never seen, DANIELLE GENEST! Add his rival, SHANE FARRELL, all the zillions of I.M.C DANCERS, ex-dancers, “friends of”, and ballet students who make appearances through-out, most dancing in the opening, masque-ball scene ‘circa’ Hungarian Count’s residence and your immediately transcend-dead to another time.

The score of this enthusiastic, young, kind-of-avant-garde ORCHESTRA eerily strains underneath this folklore-ish dance, costumes all befitting to this fantasy time and place. It’s a nifty one and half hour’s long that just zips by, with a short intermission-bar offering-up a glass of wine or bottled water.

From beginning to end, this ballet simply makes you feel good about tricks and treats .

MIKI OLSEN and I have the same philosophy regarding THE ARTS in Newport, You got to MAKE IT HAPPEN and you got to MAKE IT WORK! Boy do MIKI, DOMINIQUE ALFANDRE, the entire ISLAND MOVING COMPANY STAFF, VOLUNTEERS, LIGHTING GUYS, SOUND GUYS, COSTUME MAKERS, and everyone involved,make this original production HAPPEN and really MAKE IT WORK! Only in Newport. IT’S GREAT!!!