STUDIO CITY — From all advance reports, the version of "Dracula" being presented in the inaugural production of the Ventura Court Theatre Alliance was supposed to be for yucks. Forget those boring explanations of vampirism and Vlad history of the Bram Stoker variety. We're off to Camp Dracula.
Actually, we get halfway there, then turn back. In George Luce's and George Maguire's play, there's a little bit of the nonsense of "Love at First Bite," a touch of Mel Brooks-style buffoonery, a sprinkling of British farce--and a whole bunch of Stoker's old plot from the novel (the English sequence). This "Dracula" is more or less a comedy in the first and last acts. The problem is the act in the middle, with a stolid, literal, exposition-heavy tone that throws the evening out of whack.
It also doesn't help that the physical comedy in Act I is hardly pulled off with the ease of some of the modest special effects--and the suave ease of Vaughn Armstrong as an interestingly older, seasoned vampire. Ironically, Armstrong is so into the role that it may have cost him some objectivity as director. A pair of eyes once-removed would have told him that this show needs some housekeeping.