Kansas City – Don’t worry about the title of this review, there are no vampires afoot in Kansas City to my knowledge. Rather, the Kansas City Ballet has released a different sort of vampire onto the theatregoing public. Their new production of Dracula, which opened to a nearly sold-out theatre at the Kauffman Center, was seducing and sumptuous to the fullest degree. From the fantastic modern score to the dancing to the special effects that are possible in such a new and decked out theatre as the Muriel Kauffman Theatre, Dracula is a sight to be seen. Now, I should make note that I am not typically one to go to ballet. My preference generally is opera, theatre, choral and orchestral concerts, and smaller recitals. However, the chance to see what sounded like a stunning production wasn’t one that I was going to miss.
Dracula the ballet is quite similar to Dracula the novel. Generally it is very faithful to the original book. I know the story of Dracula more from the historical context of Vlad Draculea, aka Vlad III of Walachia, a fairly bloody king of part of modern Romania who spent much of his reign fighting off the Ottoman Turks. It is often thought that Vlad Draculea was the original inspiration for the Dracula of fiction. The KC Ballet’s production does a fantastic job showing the differences culturally between the far more old-fashioned Dracula and the far more modern Jonathan Harker in one moment in Act I when Harker first meets the vampire. Dracula offers him a deep bow of welcome, which Harker returns with a handshake.
I found the occasional use of the voice to be perfectly fitting for where it was used. There may have been a few too many screams here and there, though at times with such a subject as this one can never truly know if the screams are coming from on stage or beyond. Anthony Krutzkamp excelled as Dracula, showing the gracefulness that would naturally come with such an elevated age. The two dancers who played Mina and Lucy, Molly Wagner and Laura Hunt respectively excelled at their roles, showing their prowess and flexibility with each moment that they were on stage. Ryan Jolicoeur-Nye (Harker) did a fantastic job in Act I in his dance with Krutzkamp (Dracula). I was left astounded at how well they were able to move together, how fluidly they could let their bodies work in unison as Dracula steadily drove Harker to insanity.
I recommend this production of Dracula to anyone who has the chance to see it. The ballet runs at the Kauffman Center this weekend (22 – 23 Feb) and next Thursday through Sunday (27 Feb – 2 Mar). See this link for more details.