News Column

Apple Hill takes a bite out of Dracula tale [Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (PA)]

October 23, 2013


Apple Hill Playhouse sets the tone for a frightful Halloween experience with its production of "Dracula: The Musical?"

But chances are audiences won't be scared out of their seats by Rick Abbott's adaptation of the classic horror story -- because they'll be too busy laughing at the words and music that set this spoof apart from the traditionaly creepy vampire tale. At least that's the plan, according to Joe Milliren of Irwin, who directs this fun-filled romp.

The show is set in a sanitarium run by Dr. Sam Seward (played by Kim Hart of Greensburg). His wife, Sophie (Rozella Hoffman of Latrobe), and daughter, Mina (Megan Henderson of Greensburg), reside there, along with the family maid, Nelly Norton (Emily Urbaniak), and a patient, Boris Renfield (Andy Meholick), both of Greensburg.

They have invited Count Dracula and a friend of the family, Bubu Padoop (Jessica Orlowski of New Kensington) for dinner. While they are dining, vampire hunter Dr. Van Helsing (Mike Marra of Lower Burrell) arrives to warn Dr. Seward that "an undying monster is stalking this household."

"That is pretty much where the show following the traditional story of Dracula ends," the director says. "It is a campy, fun- filled spoof, complete with one-liners and many a play on words."

Milliren says he was first introduced to "Dracula: The Musical?" more than 20 years ago, when Apple Hill first produced the show, and he was cast as Renfield.

"I have since directed and choreographed the show three times and even had to jump into the role of Van Helsing for one production. So, I guess you could say that I'm quite familiar with the show," he says. "This has helped in overcoming some of the challenges that this particular version of the story brings with it, including special effects. When Apple Hill asked me to direct, I jumped at the opportunity to do it again."

Seton Hill University student Mike Hamilla of Uniontown takes on the role of Count Dracula. His character is complex, he says, because as the villain, he has a duty to be frightening, but because this is a comedy, he also has to make people laugh sometimes.

"Almost everyone has a similar picture in their mind when they hear the name Dracula. He has a certain demeanor and accent that need to be delivered in order to make such a well-known character believable and real," he says.

Hamilla says he wasn't familiar with this adaptation but he wanted to audition for it because he's always been interested in the story of Dracula. "Plus, I'm in this show with a lot of friends, and everyone has been great to work with," he says.

Musical director of "Dracula: The Musical?" is Rob Stull of Leechburg.

Candy Williams is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.

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