Desert Star Playhouse is offering a tasty treat for trick-or-treaters this month with a batty sendup of Bram Stoker's "Dracula."
"Dracula - the Vampire, or He Loved in Vein," written by Peter VanSlyke and directed by Ed Griska, is peppered with biting humor as it skewers everthing from "Titanic" to Taco Bell to "Sesame Street" to the Clinton-Lewinsky sex scandal.The curtain rises on Miss Renfield (Gayle Hayes-Castleton), who has traveled to Transylvania to help Count Dracula (Scott Holman) buy a home in England. Once there, Miss Renfield falls under the Count's spell and becomes his devoted - albeit slightly loony - servant.
The Count and Renfield travel to England by ship, which runs aground on a very dark and very foggy night (the theater's fog machine seemed to be working overtime). The wreck is discovered by Jonathan "I'm Married to Mina Now" Seward (Paul Thomas Murphy), his butler, Mr. Butterworth (Glen A. Carpenter), Seward's wife Mina (Holly Capser) and her maid, Miss Wills (Danielle Omer). The quartet discovers Renfield, who by now is quite batty, in the bowels of the ship along with 40 crates filled with dirt.
The bug-eating Miss Renfield is promptly committed to Seward's mental institution. Soon after, Mina's friend Lucy (Julie Ann Christensen) becomes deathy ill, promping Seward to call his former professor, Dr. Van Helsing (Ben E. Millet), for help.
Van Helsing theorizes that Lucy is falling prey to a vampire - but alas! - his diagnosis comes too late for Lucy. The gang then sets out to kill off the Count before he gets a chance to put the bite on them.
Griska has assembled a talented ensemble cast, but four really stand out: Holman, as Dracula, skulks around the stage with devilish delight; Hayes-Castleton is a hoot to watch as she goes nuts; Omer, a Desert Star regular, steals almost every scene she's in; and I just loved Christensen as Lucy. (And her theme song bears that out.)
Particularly funny is a scene where Dracula calls Lucy on a cordless phone, setting up a sendup of the "Scream" films.
In addition, each cast member gets to flex his or her musical talents with a variety of songs, including "It Don't Mean a Thang if You Ain't Got That Fang," "I'm Flying" and Hayes-Castleton's "Bug Boogie" (sung to the tune of "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy").
Kudos, too, go to light and sound technician Bronwyn Teague, costume designer Ruth Todd and music director and pianist David Len Allen, who keeps the show moving right along.
Be sure to stick around for the post-show olio featuring the cast (sans makeup) in "From `C' to Shining `C,' " a collection of American Folk favorites. A sendup of favorite love songs by President Clinton (Holman) is worth the price of admission alone.