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Theatre / Dracula (2001)

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Adapted from the original Bram Stoker novel that the Public Domain Character Dracula comes from, Dracula is a musical scored by Frank Wildhorn, with a book written by Don Black and Christopher Hampton. The show had a tumultuous history: Its premiere at the La Jolla Playhouse, La Jolla, California, in 2001 was played to 115% capacity, the highest paid capacity for any world premiere production in the playhouse's history. It then premiered on Broadway in 2004, starring Tom Hewitt as the frightening vampire Count and Melissa Errico as the woman he loves, Mina Harker. Despite a brief nude scene and numerous spectacular effects, this engagement show ran for only 154 performances, and received mainly negative reviews. Today it is still held up right along with Tanz Der Vampire's ill-fated Broadway outing as proof that vampire-themed musicals don't work very well. However, the show was heavily revised and later had engagements in Europe, where it proved to be a hit. The Korean versions have been similarly successful.

Jonathan Harker, a young British solicitor about to be made partner, is sent out to Castle Dracula in Transylvania to see about a new client of his firm. Waiting at home for him is his young fiancée and secretary, Wilhelmina "Mina" Murray. Jonathan expects to be back home within a few weeks, but he doesn't know that Count Dracula is an ancient vampire, whose intentions in moving to England are nothing less than a plan to feast on the teeming crowds of London.

Meanwhile in England, Dr. John Seward, keeper of an insane asylum, notices a strange habit of his patient Renfield: consuming live things so as to absorb their life energy. Renfield keeps trying to escape to the old abandoned house next to the asylum, which seems to be seeing a lot of activity all of a sudden. And Lucy Westenra, Mina's beautiful best friend with one fiancé and two men in unrequited love with her (Dr. Seward being one of the two), is beginning to fall ill...

Concerned about Lucy's health, Dr. Seward notifies his Dutch mentor, Dr. Abraham van Helsing. When Van Helsing recognizes Lucy's illness as the mark of the vampire, he gathers Lucy's loved ones around him to save the girl: her fiancé Arthur, Lord Godalming; her American former suitor Quincey Morris; Jonathan Harker, and Mina. Together, hey form a plan to hunt him down and rid the world of him forever.

This story provides examples of:

  • Adaptational Angst Upgrade: For Mina. Unlike most versions where she firmly chooses one or the other, the musical predominantly features her struggling between remaining steadfast and loyal to Jonathan or answering to her lustful passions for Dracula.
  • Affectionate Nickname: Van Helsing takes to Mina in a very fatherly sort of way, and consistently refers to her as "Madam Mina."
  • Agent Mulder: It doesn't take much to convince Quincey Morris that there are vampires about.
  • Agent Scully: Arthur Godalming, on the other hand...
  • Animal Motifs: Howling wolves are a sign of Dracula's presence, and he's repeatedly associated with (and has power over) wolves, bats, rats, and at one point lizards.
  • Aristocrats Are Evil: Except for Lord Godalming, AKA Arthur, who is one of the protagonists, but not treated any differently from the rest. Dracula, however, is dead straight. Conversely, every vampire is aristocratic.
  • As Long as It Sounds Foreign: Stoker uses the word "nosferatu" as an appealingly foreign-sounding synonym for "vampire", and identified as his source a work that cited it as the Romanian translation of "not living". Unfortunately, the word doesn't exist in Romanian, and no alternative etymologies (a Greek word meaning "disease-bearing," a Latin word meaning "you are our wild beast," or a mis-transcription of a legitimate, but unknown, Romanian or Slavonic word) have gained anything like consensus.
  • Blood Lust: Count Dracula licks the razor with Jonathan's blood on it, in full view of the audience.
  • Boisterous Bruiser: Quincey Morris fills this trope to a T.
  • Breaking and Bloodsucking: Dracula never broke in. The first time, he called Mina from outside the house, and Lucy answered instead. Mina invited him in, though some adaptations have chosen to portray him as hypnotizing her into doing so.
  • Child Eater: Dracula's vampire companions and Lucy after she turned. Dracula throws a baby boy to the brides, and Lucy leads a girl into the crypt.
  • Crowd Song: "Deep in the Darkest Night."
  • Cross-Cast Role: In Japan, Dracula was played by Wao Yoka, former otokoyaku (male role actress) of the Takarazuka Revue. However, Wao's Dracula seems to have an Ambiguous Gender - they do not bind their chest (as otokoyaku do when playing men). They use "watashi", which is a feminine/polite pronoun. The Brides/Grooms (played by men) refer to them as "gochujinsama" (master, usually not used for women). Mina addresses Dracula as "anata" ("my dear", or an intimate way of saying "you" to a male partner). "ano hito" (that human) is also used.
  • Damsel in Distress: Lucy and Mina. Mina, however, does something about it.
  • Daywalking Vampire: Nothing is mentioned of sunlight being able to hurt vampires, and Dracula mentions being only a pale face in the crowds of London.
  • Death by Adaptation: In the Japanese production, Mina dies. In the Korean, Jack dies instead of Quincy.
  • Death of a Child: A child is fed to the Brides.
  • Dual Age Modes: Dracula appears much younger when he's recently fed. The Korean version gives Dracula a long white wig and facial prosthetics to make him look older and barely recognizable. After he's bitten Jonathan, the wig and prosthetic comes off, revealing a red-headed, Pretty Boy Junsu.
  • Driven to Suicide: In the Graz production, the mother whose child gets fed to the Brides crawls on her knees to Dracula and reaches up to him beseechingly. He breaks her neck.
  • Eats Babies: The three women in Dracula's Castle. Lucy almost reaches this point.
  • Fangs Are Evil: Dracula, however, does not sport any because it's hard to sing through big freaking teeth.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Dracula is a most polite and charming host at first, but he loses the affability in his later encounters with the other characters.
  • Gender Flip: In the Japanese production, the Brides are men.
  • Gentleman and a Scholar: Van Helsing.
  • Girl Posse: Dracula's brides can be seen as this.
  • The Heart: Mina. Even Renfield is drawn to her, and her gentle question made him betray his master.
  • Implacable Man: Van Helsing.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Lucy, and Dracula. The latter, with Mina's hands on his, stabbed himself in the heart with a Bowie knife.
  • "I Want" Song: "Fresh Blood" is a villainous take on this, featuring Dracula explaining that he wants... guess what.
  • Kiss of the Vampire
  • Melancholy Musical Number: "Before the Summer Ends" for Jonathan.
  • Monster Progenitor
  • Mind Control: Vampires are capable of this. In the Graz production alone:
    • Jonathan seems very dazed as Dracula is basically hugging him from behind, while holding the razor to Jonathan's face/throat. Harker stays in the same pose with his head tilted back and his eyes half-lidded for a good few seconds after Dracula has moved away, before coming to with a confused/disturbed expression.
    • Jonathan, again, in "Fresh Blood"/"Blut" as he's being seduced by the Brides. The Korean music video for this song focuses rather intensely on Jonathan's blank expression as Dracula does... things... to him and the Brides writhe around them. Less so in the show proper, however.
    • And because third time's a charm, Jonathan is struck down and entranced by Dracula as the Count enters Mina's room.
    • Some productions imply that he did this to Mina to influence her into loving him and inviting him in.
  • Name Order Confusion: Dracula refers to Jonathan as "Harker Jonathan" upon the latter's arrival.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: Nice job giving the heroine a VIP pass to your mind, Dracula.
  • Omniglot: When semi-delirious and first approached by the Brides of Dracula, Harker can fully understand their language, as they speak to each other, and the Count's furious rebukes. Harker is said explicitly to know good German, but no mention of him knowing either literary Romanian or Hungarian, leave alone an ancient dialect spoken between themselves by beings undead for 400 years. Unless the Count and the Brides were so eager to learn English they used the language even as they quarreled with each other.
  • Please, Don't Leave Me: In the song Loving You Keeps Me Alive, after learning Mina has heard from Jonathan and intends to go to him, Dracula confesses his own love for her and pleads with Mina not to depart and stay with him instead. Her silent rejection of him and determination to follow through on her vow to Jonathan breaks his heart and steels his resolve to continue his murderous conquests.
  • The Power of Blood: Types A (binding), B (symbolic), and O (disturbing).
  • The Professor: Van Helsing.
  • Psychic Link: Mina is the Harry Potter to Dracula's Voldemort after she drinks his blood.
  • Psychic Radar: And the above happening to Mina lets the protagonists use her as a sort of psychic divining rod to track the Count.
  • Quarreling Song: "Zu Ende" in the Austrian, Japanese, and Korean productions, where Dracula and Van Helsing have a show down in song form.
  • Redemption Equals Death: Renfield.
  • Reincarnation Romance: In the Korean, Mina is the reincarnation of Dracula's dead wife.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: In the Korean, Both Renfield and Quincy survive, though Renfield might be on the receiving end of a Fate Worse than Death, being confined to a Victorian asylum for the foreseeable future.
  • The Dog Bites Back: Renfield, even though it costs him his life.
  • Team Dad: Van Helsing.
  • Team Mom: Mina.
  • Team Spirit
  • Terms of Endangerment: Even when threatening him, Dracula refers to Jonathan as "my friend".
  • The Vamp: Dracula's three vampire companions, and Lucy when she becomes a vampire.
  • Vampire Refugee: Mina.
  • Vampires Are Sex Gods: Guess. Unlike the novel, the musical chose to cast handsome actors (and one beautiful actress) as the Count. Same thing applies for the Brides.
  • Vampires Hate Garlic: Van Helsing attempts to protect Lucy from Dracula by giving her a garland of garlic flowers to wear, and rubbing garlic around all the entrances of her bedroom.
  • Villain Song: Both "Fresh Blood" and "Life After Life" qualify.
  • Warning Song: "Nosferatu" is this, as Van Helsing explains the horrors that vampires are capable of while tending to a dying Lucy. Doubles as a partial "The Villain Sucks" Song as well.
  • Would Hurt a Child: After Lucy was turned into a vampire, children were her favorite targets.