Improv Playhouse to present radio drama 'Dracula'
Re-enacting the original 1938 Orson Welles' script, Improv Playhouse will produce the classic Bram Stoker novel "Dracula" as a staged radio drama Friday and Saturday, Oct. 29-30.
"We're unbelievably excited about putting this drama up with our actors," said David Brian Stuart, Improv Playhouse founder and executive director
The story has been adapted many times for stage and screen. What was a pre-pandemic tradition now returns in what Stuart describes as "by far the closest to the original novel. The little-known, hourlong radio drama adaptation aired on July 11, 1938, mere months before his (in)famous 1938 radio broadcast of 'War of the Worlds,' which we produced four years ago around the same time of year."
Welles was only 23 years old when he and his Mercury Theater company were invited by Columbia Broadcasting to do a series of theatrical performances for radio.
"These were mostly adaptations of classic works of literature into hourlong radio plays," Stuart said. "The first of these was the Mercury Theater's on-air performance of this piece. Very cool stuff," Stuart said.
Improv Playhouse will also be creating a festive environment with treats and other surprises during the night of performances.
"It is going to be a night of safe, just plain, clean fun," Stuart said. "Unlike Welles, who also played the role of Dracula in the original production, and for the sake of limiting the number of people on our stage, I, rather, will only be directing."
Stuart's fellow SAG-AFTRA union member and Lake Zurich resident Mia Hirschel will play Mina.
Newcomers to the cast include Sam Barbaro of Carpentersville, who will play the evil count.
The rest of the cast includes another SAG actor, George Elliott of Hainesville as the Captain, Egon Schein of Libertyville as Van Helsing, Susan Kries of Vernon Hills as Lucy, Rahman Williams of Highland Park as Harker, and Steven Plumhoff of Gurnee.
"We stage the drama much like those recorded in front of a live audience," Stuart said. "We'll have the audience immersed in our sound design. The story is presented in the form of diary readings and newspaper clippings, as in the book.
"Much of the dialogue is straight from the original, 'Dracula' in particular. Sam manages a sinister performance with accented voice, fully conveying Dracula's dark majesty and malevolence."
Performance times are 8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 29, and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 30, at Improv Playhouse Theater, 735 N. Milwaukee Ave. in Libertyville.
Advance tickets are $15 or $7.50 for students; $20 or $10 for students at the door.
For ticket orders, visit www.improvplayhouse.com or call (847) 968-4529.