Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Philadelphia

Such Things as Vampires
People's Light
Review by Rebecca Rendell | Season Schedule

Also see Rebecca's review of Company


Crystal Lucas-Perry and Isa Arciniegas
Photo by Mark Garvin
This fall, ditch the pumpkin spice latte and get sucked into the creepy, high-energy fun of the People's Light's Dracula-inspired folk/alternative rock musical Such Things as Vampires. The electric original score (Zak Berkman's "Paper Sparrows" and Jessie Fisher's "Stingers and Thorns" are standouts) and rock concert aesthetic (the talented ensemble play their own guitars, bass, drums, piano and violin) are highly entertaining, but the real innovation is retelling Bram Stoker's gothic tale from an unapologetically feminine perspective. I would love to see the intensity turned up in some places—angrier music, more gore—and the moral does not need to be stated so bluntly, but anyone who enjoys new music or a good vampire story will have a great time at this spooky concert/theater experience.

The Preventers, a traveling band with a mysterious purpose, are our hosts for the evening. It seems there is a "bloom" of vampire activity in Malvern, Pennsylvania, and the Preventers have come to educate us about the encroaching threat before it is too late. The story they tell hews fairly close to the plot of Bram Stoker's original novel, but in this version our protagonist is Lucy's best friend Mina. Best friends and would-be lovers Mina (Crystal Lucas-Perry) and Lucy (Isa Arciniegas) are spending one last summer together before Mina marries young barrister Jonathan Harker (Alex Lydon), and Lucy chooses one of three ardent suitors. A dark animalistic Dracula (Pearl Rhein) attacks in the storm and Lucy's transformation begins. Mina cares for her friend as long as possible, but when she leaves Lucy in the care of her suitors and Dr. Van Helsing (Sam Henderson), the real nightmare starts. The band members' strange afflictions and a looming threat that seems to be coming from just outside the theater occasionally interrupt the action and add a sense of playful urgency to the proceedings.

Creators Zak Berkman, Stuart Carden, Jessie Fisher, and Mary Tuomanen have gathered a phenomenal team to bring their vision to life. Lucas-Perry's evolution is extremely satisfying and her chemistry with Arciniegas is exhilarating. Daniel Croix Henderson, Lydon, and Rhein are appropriately loathsome as Lucy's suitors, and Sam Henderson is an ultimately terrifying Van Helsing. Director Stuart Carden successfully creates a sense of uncanny dread, but he would do well to move some important scenes off the floor where they are just too hard to see clearly. Melissa Ng's costume designs are scary good, as are Jamie Mohamdein orchestrations and arrangements.

Citing strong and sexual violence, People's Light suggests that the appropriate audience for Such Things as Vampires is 13+. I think that is erring too far on the side of caution. The violence is pretty tame by even network TV standards and the sexual violence is disturbing but not explicit. Every kid is different, but I am confident that 9-year-olds who like loud music and scary stories would not find the production overwhelming.

Such Things as Vampires, through October 31, 2018, on the People's Light's Steinbright Stage, 39 Conestoga Road, Malvern PA. For tickets contact the box office at 610-644-3500 or visit www.peopleslight.org.

Crew:
Preventer: Isa Arciniegas
Preventer: Crystal Lucas-Perry*
Preventer: Alex Lydon*
Preventer: Daniel Croix Henderson*
Preventer: Sam Henderson*
Preventer: Pearl Rhein*

Crew:
Director: Stuart Carden
Set Designer: Arnel Sancianco
Costume Designer: Melissa Ng
Lighting Designer: Isabella Byrd
Sound Designer: Lee Kinney
Music Director, Orchestrator and Arranger: Jamie Mohamdein
Assistant Director: Macie Poskarbiewicz
Fight & Intimacy Director: Eli Lynn
Dramaturg: Gina Pisasale
Stage Manager: Rebecca Kestel
Co-EDI Advocate: Terrell Green
Co-EDI Advocate: Amelia Parenteau
Line Producer: Abigail Adams


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