A foreboding figure spreads his arms and a scarlet cape unfurls, striking against the shadowy walls of his castle while ghostly minions swirl around him. This is Dracula as told by Alberta Ballet. And as far as dramatic spectacles go, this one is breath taking.
Moody and gothic, the suspense builds from the beginning of Act I. Deep inside Dracula’s castle in the Transylvanian hills we are treated to a ritualistic dance with the corps de ballet dressed identically, moving strangely, hypnotically…obviously entranced by the vampire Dracula.
The costumes and sets Alberta Ballet are using here are on loan from the Texas Ballet Theater, where the ballet originally premièred. When Dracula opened in Houston nearly 20 years ago, production was rumoured to have a seven figure price tag. Indeed, for stagecraft, Dracula has the feel of a Broadway show (and to clarify, I LOVE Broadway shows.) There is fog and smoke, a climactic burst of pyrotechnics, dancers glide through the air on invisible pulleys. Things are reportedly bigger in Texas, and this ballet does little to disprove the saying.
The visual spectacle of the show is opulent, the spectral brides of Dracula in their floaty dresses, the drama of the Dark Count, and the acrobatic frenzy of the henchman Renfield make this a wonderful production. The only distraction was my recurrent thought during the final showdown between the undead and the townsfolk: “Why would they only bring one cross to a battle with a bunch of vampires?”
I went in to the show wondering if it would be too scary for a young audience, and I would have to say it probably would be. While the violence is mostly just suggested, it is present and if your kid isn’t familiar with vampire mythology, you are going to have some explaining to do. Similarly, in the final dramatic act, Dracula entrances innocent Svetlana and takes her to the bed, where it is understood he will “make her his bride.” My kids often surprise me with what they pick up on, and conversely, the things that go over their heads. Of course you know your kid best, but I would think 10-12 would be a good lower age range suggestion.
If you have a brave child you want to bring, or if you want a night out without them, the ticket price of Dracula is money well spent.
Alberta Ballet’s Dracula Contact Details:
When: November 4 & 5, 2016
Time: Friday and Saturday: 7:30 pm
Where: Northern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium
Address: 11455 87 Ave.