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THEATER REVIEW : 'Dracula' Is a Spoof You Can't Count On


"Dracula the Comedy," at the Knightsbridge Theatre in Pasadena's Old Town, is frightening for the wrong reasons. It makes fun of a horror classic without eliciting one belly laugh itself. So it's a long evening, even though the show lasts only a little over an hour.

Adaptor and Knightsbridge co-founder Joseph Stachura said that when he last staged a traditional "Dracula" nobody showed up. So this Halloween he decided to camp up the fangy count, and--guess what?--the theater was almost packed the night we attended.

The trouble with Stachura's comedy is that it's musty and talky, notably in the case of the visiting doctor, Prof. Van Helsinki (Frank Simons), who in the traditional version is the hero of the piece. Stachura has transformed him into a madman who insists he's Dutch, not German, and breaks into goose-steps and heils to the Fuhrer , his brow perspiring under the moody drawing room lights.

And what's "Dracula" without a bedroom and tombs or burial vaults? Director Edward Luhn's set is a drawing room, with gauzy curtains blowing through a French window.

In the show's one great moment, the traditionally costumed, oily Count Dracula (a suave and silken Victor Ian Lopez) sensually plunges his teeth into the luscious damsel, Lucy (Teressa McKillop).

No wonder that the straightforward, drop-dead-serious approach outwits most satiric transformations. The play's humorous motif is provided by Van Helsinki's dazed daughter, Mina (Cheryl Bricker), who sports a Dracula-induced gash on her pretty throat, with these pointy things protruding from her neck.

On a horror scale, zero. On a comedy scale, just a nibble.

* "Dracula the Comedy," Knightsbridge Theatre, 35 S. Raymond Ave., Pasadena, Friday, 9 p.m., Saturday, 8 p.m., Sunday, 5 p.m. Ends Oct. 31. $15; $10 for students and senior citizens. (818) 440-0821. Running time: 1 hour, 15 minutes.

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