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October 27, 2010

A REVIEW – MET’s Sensational “Dracula”

Roy Meachum

Much more high-camp than scary, “Dracula” weighs in as the best production I’ve ever seen in Maryland Ensemble Theatre history, stretching back for nigh onto 13 years.


Director Tad Janes’ secret formula? Chose a bodacious play. Assemble a very strong cast and let them rip. Try not to let them get into each other’s way is a mark of his genius. He was additionally very smart by converting the basement of the old Francis Scott Key Hotel into a thrust stage. Backed by a wall, the players work almost surrounded and comforted by the audience.


All Frederick owes a humungous bouquet to Mr. Janes for scheduling Steven Dietz’ “Dracula” to run through Halloween; the playwright immensely improves on novelist Bram Stoker’s original vision. The celebrated embodiment belongs to Hungarian actor Bela Lugosi – with accent, soul-drilling eyes and patent leather hair to match. Reiner Proschka is more menacing, in a physical sense.


Everyone on-stage in the MET production was owed a strong spotlight for her/himself, but if I write all the names they would simply be absorbed by themselves. Probably you would wind up remembering none. This is a truly ensemble performance.


But I want to inscribe on that part of your brain that’s fascinated by bravura acting, Jeff Keilholtz’s identity. The seat I was assigned was a few feet away during his big scenes. He absolutely looked like a late 19th century mental case controlled by the vampire. His voice gave apt pauses, sometimes abruptly; his ramblings and screeching in an accent I couldn’t place, despite my several languages.


If the Frederick Arts Council invents an equivalent to Broadway’s Tonys or Hollywood’s Oscars the first one should go to Jeff Keilholtz; he’s that terrific.


The MET “Dracula” on long weekends in the FSK Hotel runs until Saturday evening, November 13.


If all lavish, earned praise have not moved you to move, feel free to come over the next time you spot Pushkin and me on our North Market Street strolls. In modern argot that must please Tad Janes, his “Dracula” is to die for.


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