"Dracula: The Panto" at Indy Fringe

This is a guest post by Robby Slaughter and a review from IndyFringe.

My first show at Indy Fringe this year was "Dracula: The Panto", a raucous retelling of Bram Stoker's classic. As the narrator explained in the opening, a "panto" (short for "pantomime" is a family-friendly version of a popular story, filled with songs, modern references and irreverent humor. The cast delivered handily on this promise.

"Dracula" is a can't miss mostly because of the side-splitting lyrics in the musical numbers. Watch for self-referential commentary in the love song and pop-culture asides from the henchmen. And like any good IndyFringe show, this production includes a few moments of clarity about their own budget, audience expectations, and especially a bit of local flare.

Performances were by and large earnest and enjoyable. A special mention goes to Kate Homan (whose dialogue admits the oddity of her playing the male role of Dr. Van Helsing), and whose skeptical looks and energetic singing voice are a major highlight. Jonah Winston, who plays the jive-talking American explorer, keeps audiences on their toes with his broad expressions and fourth-wall asides.

The star and the headliner, however, is Dracula himself. Masterfully played by Matthew Anderson, his hilariously exaggerated body language is enough to make the audience double over alone. Anderson excels at adhering to the form of the panto, with frequent conversations with the audiences. He demands us to boo his character more, "After all, I'm the villain of this piece!"

Although the performance brought laughs and engaged the crowd, the show was plagued by technical difficulties. These cannot be attributed to the Cook Theater at the recently-restored Indiana Landmarks Center. The Fringe's newest performance space is gorgeous and had incredible acoustics for later shows. But this reviewer missed quite a few lyrics and could not hear many of the singers due to problems with the audio balance. Hopefully, these can be address for later shows.

Despite these concerns, "Dracula: The Panto" is a hit. This is a great introduction to IndyFringe for first-timers and a perfect experience for long-time fans. Catch it yourself!

More at www.indyfringe.org. Enjoy other works by this company at http://www.eclecticpond.org/,

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