Those who've read Bram Stoker's Victorian classic will appreciate that Director Charles Morey stuck close to the original story when adapting it for the stage, and so much about the production is fantastic. The actors are phenomenal, and delivered seamless performances on the play's opening night. Mark Elliot Wilson shines as the Count, and brings life to the monster. At times you almost feel sorry for him, creating an eerie balance between sentimentality and fear. Even the monster has some sort of soul, however soulless it is. Perhaps it's just desire and an early portrayal of lust. Regardless, it's creepy and if you love Halloween, the entire effect of Dracula is good squeal-inducing fun.
The set design is wonderful: Think crumbling castle walls and smoky lighting, which could at times make you feel like you're creeping along on stage, too, lantern in hand, as if through a spooky old cemetery. Of course, the set transferred well between indoor scenes and out. The costumes put you in the right time frame, too. Really, the play is spot on.
Perhaps least expected were the special effects. Sure there are a lot of loud screams from the ladies on stage, and lots of pistol pops. But the Count makes an impressive quick change, so you'll need to keep your eyes peeled toward the end of the play. And while you're at it, watch your neck, er, back.
(Visit pioneertheatre.org for more information.)