It may be hard for some to believe, but the long-beloved Halloween-time favorite “Dracula” was, in the parlance of many a horror TV and movie advertisement today, inspired by real life events.
In his 1897 tome, Bram Stoker found inspiration for “Dracula” in Hungarian Prince Vlad III. Also known as Vlad Dracul, Vlad fought against the Ottoman Empire during his life and his savage techniques branded him with the moniker “Vlad the Impaler.”
“Vlad Dracul was a real person an a hero to his people,” said JoBeth Cruz, director of Valparaiso’s Chicago Street Theatre’s production of “Dracula.” “He was a ferocious warrior, and he was so well-known for his torture techniques and then impaling his enemies on high stakes outside of his castle.”
Opening Oct. 12 and running through Oct. 31, Stoker’s tale of the Transylvanian count, his nemesis, Dr. Abram Von Helsing, his victim, Lucy Westphal and his deranged minion Renfield, has inspired hundreds of stage, big screen and small-screen adaptations over the course of the last century-plus. It also served as the starting point, it also an be argued that. without “Dracula,” it’s hard to envision everything from “Buffy” to “True Blood” to “Twilight.”
For Chicago Street’s production of “Dracula,” Cruz selected an adaptation created for the stage by American playwright and actor William McNulty.
“It is not your typical moody, brooding ‘Dracula’ romance at all,” Cruz said. “It is monsters. It is blood. It is scariness. It’s much more what you think of when you think of Vlad the Impaler. It’s the original character.”
Matt McCann from Valparaiso takes on the role of the Count in Chicago Street’s production of “Dracula.” He is joined onstage by Earle Howe from Lansing as Von Helsing, Chesterton’s Dan Matern as Renfield and Kyrie Anderson from Hobart as Lucy.
“What I want to happen is I want to hear that wonderful gasp from the audience when something unexpected happens, or maybe even a little scream,” Cruz said. “There’s going to be a lot of unexpected things happening.”
Next up for Chicago Street Theatre is a production of “The Sound of Music,” which is scheduled to open Nov. 23.