Director Ken Sawyer, who recently helmed the delightful Lovelace: A Rock Opera at the Hayworth, scores again with this stylish production of Bram Stoker's Dracula, smartly adapted by Hamilton Deane and John L. Balderston. Robert Arbogast is splendid as the creepy count, first seen rising from his grave to put the bite on the lovely Mina (Mara Marini), upon his arrival in England. When Lucy Seward (Darcy Jo Martin) contracts a mysterious illness, her mother, Lily (Karesa McElheny), who runs an asylum, enlists the expertise of Abraham Van Helsing (Joe Hart) to find a cure. Thrown into the mix are Lucy's betrothed, Jonathan Harker (J.R. Mangels), and the mad, bug-eating Renfield (Alex Robert Holmes). This one's all about atmosphere. Desma Murphy's alluring set design is cleverly accented by an enormous backdrop of an incubus sitting on a sleeping woman, inspired by Henry Fuseli's painting The Nightmare, and Luke Moyer's chiaroscuro lighting schema is perfectly conceived to enhance the atmospheric richness of the piece. Sawyer utilizes an arsenal of haunted-house special effects, including lots of rolling fog and wolf howls, but they never come across as cheesy or overdone; indeed, there are a few scary moments during this 90-minute show, relieved by well-placed humor. NoHo Arts Center, 11136 Magnolia Blvd.; N. Hlwyd.; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m.; through April 26. (818) 508-7101.
Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 3 p.m. Starts: Feb. 13. Continues through May 17, 2009
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