Though you may have read the novel Dracula or seen a film or a live performance, you’ve never witnessed or heard an interpretation of the story quite like the one to be staged at Sparks High School.
Based on an Orson Welles adaptation for the Mercury Radio Theater in 1938, members of the Sparks High School Drama Club will stage a two-act play for three nights only, May 16, 17 and 18, recreating Dracula as a radio drama, compete with live sound effects, an eight-piece orchestra on stage, and chilling tales of Count Dracula’s escapades.
“It’s told as a radio audience would have heard it well before television,” says drama advisor and director Sasha Mereu, “demonstrating that we haven’t lost the art of storytelling in this digital age.” “We’re out of practice using our imaginations,” he says, “so the cast will be supported by student musicians and Foley sound artists, to create a setting where imaginations will fly as fast as the story line.”
“They’ve done it all themselves,” says Wanda Shakeenab, Sparks High Principal. “The lighting and sound, the stage blocking and storytelling; the opening five minutes alone is masterful.”
The cast is composed of a wide cross-section of Sparks High School students, some new, some experienced veterans. Leading the cast are seniors Fabi Reyes, Austin Ackerman, Toria Laughlin, and Andrew English, all mainstays of the drama club, three of whom appeared in last spring’s production of Alice in Wonderland. Senior Eli Dufurrena is lead Foley artist and has been instrumental, along with freshman Monica Venegas, at bringing live sound effects to this production. Strings teacher, Kevin Ames is the orchestra conductor, and sophomore Madelynn Brown is the stage manager. Students also staff the sound and lighting boards. The title role of Dracula is voiced by sophomore José Montes.
On Thursday evening, Sparks High alumni will be treated to a special talk beforehand by the director, who coincidentally boasts a fitting heritage. “My great grandmother was born in the Transylvanian town of Hâlchiu,” he says, “and told my family stories about the Dracula, which I didn’t really understand until we hiked the Carpathian Mountains and toured Vlad Tepis’ castle where he defended against the invading Turks.” “The story is fiction, but there is an historical context which will fascinate Sparks alumni who come for the pre-production lecture and discussion,” he added. “I grew up with this storytelling tradition, and it’s a joy to bring it to our students and alumni.”
This historical introduction will precede the Thursday, May 16 production only, at 6:00pm. Doors are open to the public at 6:30pm each night, with curtain call at 7:00 sharp at the School theatre. Tickets are $5.00 for adults, $3.00 for students and alumni, available at the door. It’s recommended that children under 12 should not attend.
Sparks alumni will be proud of these students who are following in their footsteps. The Railroaders have never shirked from big challenges, and this production is no exception.