OHHS drama club production has plenty of bite

— Created February 16, 2022 by Kathy Reed

By Kathy Reed

The Oak Harbor High School Drama Club is pleased to present its production of “Dracula,” based on the Bram Stoker novel of the same name and adapted for the stage by Laramie Dean. Performances will be held in the Student Union Building (SUB) at 7 p.m. tonight through Saturday and again next week, Feb. 24-26. Tickets are $12 at the door and reservations can be made by emailing ohhsdramaclubreservations@gmail.com. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.

It is unquestionably one of the most ambitious productions undertaken by the drama club, according to drama club volunteer advisor and co-director Eric George.

“This is probably the most technically, and special effects-driven, show that we have ever done,” he said. “We have almost 100 different light cues, 30-40 sound cues, plus special effects, and the use of blood. But as challenging as it has been, it really has been a lot of fun and Mrs. Gibson (Drama Club advisor) and I are always up for a challenge.”

“One of the challenges I’ve had to focus on is dealing with the challenges related to doing a show (any show) during a pandemic, with all of the constantly changing guidelines,” said drama club advisor Melissa Gibson. “In September, the students wore clear masks for “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged),” then the guidance changed to allow performers to be unmasked, much like athletics, as long as certain procedures are followed. All of our rehearsals so far have been masked, but can you imagine our vampires going to bite someone with a mask on?  I imagine one of our talented students will pen the future spoof “Dracula and the Nasty Coronavirus,” but this Dracula is deadly serious. We’ve had a large number of students out at various times, so having understudies is critical. Another challenge has been getting all the props and set pieces. My Google searches have been quite interesting as of late.  Edible rats anyone?”

The show is much different than other drama club productions one may have seen. For one, actors have use of the full stage, and regular seating will be used, with proper safety spacing. Actors on stage will be unmasked. For another, the play is appropriately creepy and lovers of this genre will be pleased with the production. There is blood – fake, and lots of it! – flashing lights, loud noises and some of the eeriest laughter ever heard. This production is not recommended for children under 12.

“Dracula is a horrific, bloody, terrifying play,” described AJ Gibson, who plays Dr. Abraham Van Helsing. “It’s a cast of flawed characters having to grapple with their own mistakes and faults as they face a threat who recognizes them either as food or servants, and in many cases both. It’s a story about humanity fighting the darkness within itself and confronting evil manifested into a physical form. There will be screaming, there will be blood, there will be death and undeath.”

 Despite the subject matter, students who responded to Whidbey Weekly’s questions all cited the camaraderie between cast and crew as part of what has made working on this production so enjoyable. That, and actually being able to stage a full scale production in general.

“After the isolation of the past year and a half, it’s been life-changing to be part of a cast again,” said Zoë Eisenbray, who plays the title character, Dracula. “Having in-person people to work, play, and perform something with is currently one of the best parts of my life, and it gives me the motivation to get out of bed in the morning and keep working hard.

     “Please see the show! It’s good,” they continued. “There are so many talented kids here working their hardest, overcoming a multitude of roadblocks and anxieties and challenges. For me personally, it’s been difficult to get comfortable with acting as evil and licentious as Dracula needs to be, but fortunately my scene partners have been very generous with their reassurances that no, they don’t think I’m a creep in real life. I must also mention that it’s been hilarious to rehearse bites and kisses with two to four layers of mask in the way.”

 “The most enjoyable part of this show has been getting to work with so many different people, from old friends to very talented underclassmen,” said Maggie Garrett, the vice-president of the drama club who plays the character R.M Renfield. “This role has also been the most challenging part I’ve been cast in, making this experience incredibly impactful, as insane as my character is.”

“Dracula” fans are highly encouraged to attend.

“This is my first ever play and production, so having this as my first experience is definitely something to remember,” said Dana Rivo. “Come watch! OHHS Drama Club has worked so hard, and after not having the stage for a while, this is definitely something worth watching.”

“There has been so much hard work and dedication put into this show, and it has been a very enjoyable experience overall, and if the cast has had so much fun with it, I know others can as well,” said Savannah Dickson.

“If you’re into blood or gore I think it would be a great show to see,” encouraged Alyza Doctolero.

“We’re a crazy bunch, which makes it easier to put on such a crazy show,” said Alora Van Auken. “‘Dracula’ may be an old tale, but this cast makes the story come to life. The show has plenty of bite and is the perfect amount of dramatic.”