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COME IN, COUNT - A rejuvenated ‘Dracula’ stalks the stage at Monmouth U

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1/22/2016

As part of its 10th Anniversary schedule, The Center for the Arts at Monmouth University has announced that tickets are now on sale for a February 11, 2016 event that presents an all-new experience of a well-known story — Bram Stoker’s Gothic horror classic Dracula.

Part of the 2016 Winter-Spring Performing Arts Series, the 7 p.m. performance marks the return of LA Theatre Works, last seen and heard on campus with their adaptation of their hard-hitting “radio drama” version of In the Heat of the Night. This time out, the touring troupe trades the angry streets of the 1960s American South for the mist-shrouded cobblestones of Victorian London, and its vividly evoked atmosphere of equal parts menace and romance. It’s a literary time and place that continues to resonate for audiences worldwide — and, as the years have proven, the perfect framework for Stoker’s chilling modern fable of the inscrutable yet irresistible Other, who disrupts the fragile fabric of “civilized” society in some quite terrifying ways.

The Thursday evening event also represents one of the first to be hosted inside the newly renovated Pollak Theatre. Boasting nearly 700 new seats, new carpeting and a newly enlarged stage area, the flagship performance space at Monmouth promises to enhance the unique spell cast by the LA Theatre Works players, the nation’s most celebrated purveyors of “live radio drama.” Their live “radio drama” productions are presented like a old fashion radio show and consistently feature a first-rate cast, live sound effects and a connection to the audience rarely felt in a traditional theater setting.

A master adapter of literary classics, playwright Charles Morey lends Stoker’s 1897 tale a newfound immediacy and suspense — while director Matt August and his company of actors bring new “undead” life to the familiar tale of the sinister Transylvanian nobleman who relocates to a fast-changing capital city in search of new opportunities, and new blood to sate his seemingly unquenchable thirst. And, while the script carries echoes of such indelible stage and screen Counts as Lugosi and the late Christopher Lee, this is a Dracula who draws his compelling power from the novel’s almost animalistic embodiment of evil — a literary creation that, as the producers suggest, “was like nothing the world had seen.”

Cast members include well-known TV and film actor Nicholas Hormann (The West Wing, Parks & Recreation, Modern Family) as Dracula’s nemesis Dr. Van Helsing, with B-horror film veteran Skip Pipo as the vampire’s slave Renfield, in addition to Summer Spiro (a star of the new web series Dabsity), Michael Kirby, Paul Culos, Graham Outerbridge, Alex Jacknow and Patrick Wenk-Wolff.

“Over the years, the story of Dracula has been used as commentary in modern studies of psychology, women’s issues, and colonialism,” the Theatre Works team adds — at the same time acknowledging the story’s well-earned reputation “as one of the greatest horror stories ever told.” From the milestones of cinema to the Broadway and West End stage — and from breakfast cereals and toys to a thousand other pop-cultural manifestations — the shape-shifting Count has lost none of his ability to seduce, while the popularity of entertainments like the Twilight franchise remind us that his children continue to go forth into the night.

Tickets for the LA Theatre Works presentation of Dracula are priced at $38 and $48 (with a Gold Circle seating option of $58), and can be reserved through the Monmouth University Performing Arts Box Office at 732-263-6889, or online at www.monmouth.edu/arts.

Tickets for other upcoming events in the 2015-2016 Performing Arts series at Monmouth University — including the return of Cherish the Ladies (February 27) and a new series of high definition broadcasts from the National Theatre of London, are on sale now.

To schedule interviews, please contact Kelly Barratt at 732-263-5114.