Western Carolina University’s original radio broadcast adaptation of Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel “Dracula” will be staged at the John W. Bardo Fine and Performing Arts Center on Tuesday, Jan. 24.
Tickets to the event, which begins at 7:30 p.m., are $10 and went on sale Tuesday, Nov. 1.
“This generation of young people is really interested in vampires, thanks to the ‘Twilight’ series, and it is time they learned the truth about Dracula,” said Don Connelly, head of WCU’s communication department, who wrote the script and is producing the show. “Although many of us think of the story of Dracula as a vampire jumping out from behind a tree and biting someone on the neck, Stoker’s novel is truly an involved, dark and fascinating mystery – one in which Dracula does do terrible things, but also pays dearly in the end. Our 60-minute radio show will authentically reflect the time period in which the story is set and is true to the original 1897 novel.”
All of the entertainment planned for the evening will hearken back to the golden age of radio, featuring a live orchestra and sound effects, said Connelly. The first act features music from the “realm of darkness” arranged by musical director Bruce H. Frazier, the WCU Carol Grotnes Belk Distinguished Professor of Commercial and Electronic Music. The music will be selected to set the mood for the second act – the broadcast. Frazier is composing an entirely new musical underscore for the broadcast featuring a haunting theme for Dracula.
Steve Carlisle, a stage and screen veteran who is associate dean of WCU’s Honors College, is directing the show and said everything the audience sees – from a pipe or casket prop – is being carefully evaluated and selected for the event.
“This is research-based entertainment, so authenticity is a huge factor in everything we do,” said Carlisle. “What makes this production unique to Western Carolina is the way we work together across disciplines – from music to stage and screen to English – to create a product that is authentic, truthful and entertaining, and shows other universities what is possible. We think this project is at the heart of WCU’s QEP.”
The QEP is Western Carolina University’s Quality Enhancement Plan, which is titled “Synthesis: A Pathway to Intentional Learning” and is designed to empower students to integrate knowledge and skills from their academic and co-curricular experiences to become intentional participants in their own learning.
Brian Gastle, head of the English department, is serving as the show’s research director and working with faculty to verify the script’s and show’s authenticity. Meanwhile, related learning initiatives on campus include students in a senior English seminar researching and writing papers exploring the novel’s historical context, major themes and reception. The students’ findings will be incorporated into the show’s student-designed program and posters to help audience members learn more about the historic novel.
Last year’s production afforded attendees an opportunity to view a first edition copy of “A Christmas Carol,” compliments of the Biltmore House museum, and organizers are working to have similarly significant and relevant items on display in the lobby the night of the performance.
“Dracula” marks the fourth annual faculty-developed broadcast radio show scholarship fundraiser at WCU. The first three garnered four national awards. In 2008, the group produced “The War of the Worlds,” and in 2009 the team put on a Veterans Day tribute titled “On the Home Front, Nov. ’44,” which won two top honors in the Broadcast Education Association’s Festival of Media Arts. Last year’s re-creation of the 1938 Campbell’s Playhouse radio classic “A Christmas Carol” garnered a 2011 Gabriel Award from the Catholic Academy for Communication Arts Professionals, as well as an award of excellence at the national Broadcast Education Association Festival of Media Arts.
“Dracula” is being presented by the Department of Communication, Department of English, Honors College, School of Music and School of Stage and Screen. The show is appropriate for adult audiences.
For tickets, call the John W. Bardo Fine and Performing Arts Center box office at 828-227-2479 or go online to bardoartscenter.wcu.edu.