Review by Emilie Minshew, Front Row Reviewers
Salt Lake City is so very fortunate to be home to such a prestigious ballet company as Ballet West at the historic Capitol Theatre. Having seen many incredible productions put on each year, it can be difficult to choose favorites, but if I had to pick, Dracula would almost certainly be mine. When I heard that the company would be producing Dracula again, I knew I had to see it.
Premiering in 1997 and first performed by Ballet West in 2011, Dracula tells the story of a fiendish vampire, his ancient wives, and his all-consuming thirst for fresh blood. The ballet features impressive choreography by renowned choreographer Ben Stevenson and is set to the haunting music of Hungarian composer Franz Liszt. Over the course of three acts, audiences can expect to be transported from Dracula’s crypt to a rustic mountain village as he follows his undying thirst to the beautiful and unfortunate Svetlana. After kidnapping Svetlana and taking her back to his castle, Dracula is confronted by Svetlana’s fiancé Fredrick and a fight ensues. Will Fredrick be able to rescue Svetlana before it is too late, or will Dracula have a new bride?
Dracula as danced by Tyler Gum (Adrian Fry on 10/20, 10/21 matinee, 10/28 evening, 10/25, 10/27) is as terrifying as he is hypnotic. Gum is the perfect choice for this titular role. He has a very powerful stage presence that makes Dracula’s mind control powers entirely believable, and his chemistry with the other cast members is palpable. Kazlyn Nielsen (Emily Adams on 10/20, 10/21 matinee, and 10/28 evening; Kazlyn Nielsen also on 10/25, 10/27) is a wickedly delightful Flora. As Dracula’s newest bride, she makes flying across the stage look completely effortless. She plays both a damsel in distress and wicked vampire queen with ease. Katlyn Addison (Jenna Rae Herrera on 10/20, 10/21 matinee, 10/28 evening; Kristina Pool on 10/25, 10/27) is stunning as Svetlana. She is truly radiant and I could feel her love for dance in each step I saw. Her pas de deuxs with Gum as Dracula and Hadriel Diniz (Jordan Veit on 10/20, 10/21 matinee, 10/28 evening; David Huffmire on 10/25, 10/27) as Fredrick are both mesmerizing. Addison and Diniz’s pas de deux in the second act feature a series of very technically impressive lifts as their characters fall in love. Whereas the dance between Addison and Gum in the third act demonstrated Svetlana’s struggle to resist Dracula’s mind powers, Diniz is great as Fredrick as he is an absolute highlight of the second act. It is always a delight to watch an incredible dancer do so many fouette turns that I lost count. Vinicius Lima (Beau Chesivoir on 10/21 matinee, 10/26); Huffmire on 10/20, 10/28 evening; Jonas Malinka-Thompson on 10/25, 10/27) dances a devilish Renfield to Gum’s Dracula and has audiences delighted.
It would be very remiss of me if I did not mention the incredible costuming, lighting, and set design of this show. The costuming of Dracula’s wives, done by Judanna Lynn, is truly magnificent and I want to bring special attention to them. Each of their dresses look as though they were made out of silky cobwebs, the effect is hauntingly gorgeous. They add their own separate layer of movement to the dancing as they flutter and float through the air. A small detail that I found very impressive is the difference between the older brides and Flora and Svetlana’s white bride dresses. The older brides’ dresses, while still beautiful, are more distressed and dingy because they have been in the crypt for a long time, whereas Flora and Svetlana’s dresses are a bright white and have no tears. Details like this truly make the show more enjoyable as an audience member. The light design by Tony Tucci (adapted from original designs by Tim Hunter) and lighting creation by Jim French, set the temperature for the show. What I mean by this is that the stark differences between the cold eerie crypt and the warm mountain village serve to make audiences truly feel the atmosphere around them. This is amplified by the beautiful set design by Thomas Boyd. I cannot imagine all the work that must have gone into the gorgeously painted castle and village.
Capitol Theatre is a wonderful venue for this performance. The historic building with its incredible golden crown molding and sparkling chandeliers make for an elegant night on the town. Ballet West recommends this show to ages 8 and up.
Tickets start at $29 and production runs through 28th of October with both matinee and evening performances. Be sure to come and see Dracula before he flies away!
Ballet West presents Dracula, by Ben Stevenson.
Capitol Theatre 50 W, 200 S, Salt Lake City, UT 84101
October 20th-28th, times and dates vary.
Tickets start at $25.
Ballet West Facebook Page
Dracula Promo video
Note on parking: this reviewer does recommend that audiences arrive early at the venue to combat the complexities of finding parking in downtown Salt Lake amid street construction. Another option is: park at Salt Lake Central Trax Station and take Trax to the Gallivan Plaza Station. It’s free and fun!