Theatre prepares for a blood-thirsty October show


Mackenzie Freund

Duke Bagger, Craig Banyai, and Tony Cox rehearse one of the scenes during the Dracula rehearsal Tuesday at the Charleston Alley Theatre. Cox is the director of the show and was filling in for an actor who was running late.

Mackenzie Freund, City Editor

With three separate stages in one, the cast of “Dracula” has been practicing how each scene will play out when they do their weekend shows at two separate venues.

The first show for “Dracula” is going to be a traveling show, which means they will first play in Mattoon for a weekend before returning home to the Charleston Alley Theatre.

“Dracula” opens in Mattoon at the train station the weekend of Oct. 16-19, and at the Charleston Alley Theatre the weekend after.

All shows will start at 7:30 p.m. except for the Sunday matinees, which begin at 2 p.m.

Tony Cox, the director for “Dracula,” said he likes the play and he thinks it is a good time to put it on.

“Most plays you find are either drama or comedy,” Cox said. “It’s hard to find a good science fiction play.”

The Mattoon Arts Council was restarted in 2014 and asked the Charleston Alley Theatre to perform one of their shows in Mattoon.

Cox said he and the other directors mentioned “Dracula” was being put on and said the council was excited for the possibility of it being a traveling show.

Duke Bagger, technical director for Charleston Ally Theater and one of the “Dracula” actors, said he is excited to see how the tech works while the show is in Mattoon.

“(The tech) takes a lot of power and I have to find out where I’m going to get the power for it backstage in Mattoon,” Bagger said. “We have two weeks to figure it out and, damn, I’m good.”

Two of the three stage areas belong to Dracula’s castle and a bedroom. The third area is being used as an asylum, a jail and a dock.

Cox said the play the theatre is putting on is probably the closest version to the original novel.

“(Steven Dietz) did a really wonderful job putting it together and taking it from the novel and turning it into a script,” Cox said. “We bring the idea the author had to life and let people see how we feel it should be.”

Cox said the set pieces are ones that have been used in previous shows, but painted to fit the look of the “Dracula” show.

The cast can meet for about two hours Monday through Thursday for regular play rehearsal and some Saturdays to work on the set pieces.

Cox said his plan for the background music is for it to be mood music to keep the feel of the play a bit creepy.

Michael Salem, the actor playing Dracula, said he took a break from acting, but came back because of “Dracula.”

“I made the mistake of telling them over and over again how much fun I had doing it last time,” Salem said. “I always told them ‘if you do Dracula again, that’s the thing I’d come back for.’”

Salem said he feels the cast is better chosen than the 2006 “Dracula” cast because the actors now seem to fit the ages of the characters better.

“If anything I’m probably a little older to be playing ‘Dracula,’ but I’m immortal so it’s okay,” Salem said.


Mackenzie Freund can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected]