By Joseph Pratt
Cirque d’Art Theatre is rehearsing for its annual Halloween show, which will open its 2015-2016 performing arts season with a bang. The fall slot is being filled by a retelling of “Dracula,” which the directors say is a little more risqué than their average show.
Directors Pegi Wilkes and Trisha Schmidt attributed the idea of creating a production around the classic Dracula horror after a trip to the Balletmet years ago. The two knew they wanted to bring something similar to the stage for their older performers, but didn’t have the talent or maturity until now.
Wilkes said another concern was that the show needed more emphasis on ballet, which was a dance medium the students needed more experience in. With the students being enrolled in more ballet, and getting older, the two decided the time was perfect for this classic Gothic story.
The company staged the show last year and had such success a large success that they needed to arrange an encore performance. In light of the huge interest last year, an additional matinee performance has been added to the lineup.
“We had such a great response from it last year, and since Pegi and I love the story so much, we decided to make it another tradition,” Schmidt said. “We are also repeating the same cast, so they will only be better this year.”
Wilkes explained the decision to keep the same cast came fro the maturity level of the available cast.
“They got to know their characters last year,” Wilkes explained. “This year has been spent getting them into character even more.”
The show is comprised of a variety of music, from classical to modern, to fit the different forms of dance.
One of the modern pieces includes a pas de deux between title character Dracula and damsel Lucy, to the tune of Lana Del Rey’s “Young and Beautiful,” in which they both have a small entrée before an adagio of his seduction and bite. They will also feature other modern songs, such as “Demons” by Imagine Dragons and a cover of “Every Breath You Take.” Most of the show’s classical music is set to ballet, however.
The show has also been improved by allowing Eddie Harbert, Huntington director, to participate in rehearsals to give acting lessons to the dancers.
“We have performers who are really good at what they do, but it can be challenging to always stay in character while they try to pull off the challenging tasks,” Schmidt said. “Eddie has been helping them get into character, but also helping them stay in character with various tips and tricks. He is helping us give a truly authentic performance.”
Chad Welch has been involved with Cirque since he was very young. Welch said he is excited to portray the titular role of Dracula once again. Most of Welch’s work will feature dark and Gothic-themed acrobatics and ballet.
“It feels good to be Dracula once again,” Welch claimed. “It feels a little more comfortable this year, too, since I was just getting used to this type of thing last year. Most of last year was spent on edge, trying to figure out where I stood and attempting to perfect it. This year, I am more comfortable in the role and I feel like it shows.”
Welch said the rehearsals are much more smooth this year and he feels that everyone has improved. He also said the help from Eddie Harbert have assisted them in getting their roles down.
“This story is a lot more theatrical, featuring more acting,” Welch said. “Having the extra help with that is playing a role in a better overall show, because you have to really become your character and you have to believe in each movement you make.”
“Dracula” will be Friday, October 23, Saturday, October 24, Friday, Oct. 30, and Saturday, Oct. 31 at 7:30 p.m. The matinee performance will be Saturday, Oct. 31 at 2 p.m. All shows will be at the Southern Ohio Museum. Tickets available at the door. Admission is $8 for adults and $6 for seniors and students. Parental discretion is advised.
Reach Joseph Pratt at 740-353-3101, ext. 1932, or by Twitter @JosephPratt03.