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Beware: Dracula to woo audiences at Lander University

October 31, 2010

DraculaMixing corn syrup, chocolate syrup, Coffee Mate, corn starch and a little water creates a tasty chocolate drink that anyone can enjoy. Add in the red food coloring, and what was a delightful dessert beverage takes on an amazing likeness to the elixir that satisfies the thirst of most vampires: Blood. The recipe is also guaranteed to wash out of the whitest of Victorian-era shirt collars.

But with another Halloween gone, why more blood? For Lander University's production of "Dracula," of course. And what would this classic undead character, penned by Bram Stoker in 1897, be without this crimson victual.

The play, adapted by William McNulty and directed by Lander associate professor of theatre Monique Sacay-Bagwell, will be performed in the university's Josephine B. Abney Cultural Center Auditorium Wednesday-Friday, Nov. 10-12, at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, Nov. 13, at 3 p.m. And, yes, there will be blood.

"One of the most important visuals for our production of 'Dracula' is blood, and there is a lot of it," said Sacay-Bagwell. "We needed to have at least a two-week supply of blood because we have to rehearse and have several performances. So, you have to be able to make the blood, otherwise it gets very costly." She added that the blood also needed to wash out of the costumes each night, and it needed to be edible.

The blood in the upcoming "Dracula" performance is not the only prop or special effect that will make the production an exciting and terrifying experience for those who attend.

Sacay-Bagwell said that there will be exploding coffins and lights, wooden stakes and, of course, fangs. The production also includes a monster, adding the need for prosthetics. "The blood alone would have been difficult enough, but add all of these other special effects, and you have one of the most technically elaborate productions the Lander stage has seen," she said.

In addition to these special effects, the Lander production crew has worked hard to develop costumes and set pieces, while actors have mastered dialects from Ireland to Eastern Europe, all to bring the true frightfulness of "Dracula" to the Lander stage.

"This is a horror play," said Sacay-Bagwell. "Our vampires are not 'Twilight' vampires. Count Dracula will still be charming in the beginning because that's how he works his way into people's homes and hearts. But like any serial killer, he tricks people into thinking that he is harmless."

Lander assistant professor of theatre Jennifer Sansfacon is the technical director, special effects director, and lighting and set designer. Nancy Fouché is the costume designer. The dialect coach for the performance is England native Patricia deVroomen.

Cast members for the "Dracula" production include Aurora Adams of Laurens, Amy Becker of Beaufort, Jarrett Burdette of Anderson, Brooklyn Dahmer of Greenwood, Zachary Helms of Greenville, Autumn Jones of Boiling Springs, Ryan Hewitt of Florence, John McCants of Winnsboro, Kelsey Storm McCarter of Ladson, Kari Riddle of Greenwood, Charles J. Roesner of Saluda, Lauren Rogers of Kershaw, Jon Ethan Wells of Heath Springs and Keenan Wojdyla of Johns Island.

According to Sacay-Bagwell, the performance is "not for the faint of heart," and she equated the content of the performance with a PG-13 film rating. Admission to "Dracula" is free. For information, contact Lander's College of Arts and Humanities at 864-388-8323. Information about other upcoming Lander arts events is available at www.lander.edu.