Prolific local comedy writer Patrick Schmitz sets his spoofy sites on classic horror this month as he presents The Comedy of Dracula...Kinda Sorta. It’s an exhaustive spoof of Bram Stoker’s original classic that runs around onstage for quite a long time without actually feeling like it. The spoof has a huge cast and a hell of a lot going on in and around the edges of everything. Intermission feels like it’s about a half hour into the show. The curtain call feels like it’s about a half hour after that. Leave the theatre and you’ll notice three hours have past. It’s weird, but it’s also Schmitz. So it’s fun.
Chris Goode capably carries the role of Jonathan Harker, who has gone to Transylvania to work out a land deal with Count Dracula (David Pritchard.) The epistolary aspect of the story allows for some clever comedy at the outset of the show. Harker is corresponding with his lover Mina who is endearingly played by Becky Cofta. Schmitz’ script elevates the women of the ensemble without compromising a somewhat bizarrely faithful spoofed adaptation of the overall plot of the original novel. The women are quite strong in Schimtz’s script...which give Cofta a lot of room to move around as Mina...showing-off both comedic AND dramatic talent. (Cofta is really cool. I don’t often get to talk about this coolness. In addition to appearing in this show this week, she’s also showing-up next week at Irish Fest with Milwaukee Irish Art as someone trapped in an elevator in the Méabh de Brún one-act Bring Your A Game.) Mina’s victimization by Dracula is, of course, foreshadowed by the victimization of her good friend Lucy, who is played with clever comic poise by Liz Whitford.
The female focus of the play is aided by a bit of casting. The script doesn’t seem to specifically suggest that the role of vampire hunter Professor Van Helsing be cast as a woman, but Beth Lewinski is perfect for the role. She’s got a very commanding comedic presence that works powerfully in the role. The staggering precision of Lewinsky’s comic subtlety fits the role brilliantly.
The rest of the cast features some really amazing talent in various supporting roles including Doug Jarecki as one of Lucy’s suitors, Tim Higgins as her Texan suitor and veteran comedy talent Nic Onorato in quite a few scene-stealing comedic moments as a rider, an orderly and...well...a wolf who drops by to work on the plumbing.)
There’s some interesting dramatic ends of the show that don’t often get explored in a great amount of detail in stage or screen adaptations. The dramatic end of relations between Dr. Seward and his patient/prisoner Renfield hit a cleverly dramatic counterpoint to all of the comedy. Dennis Lewis weaves an impressively sharp line between drama and comedy as Seward. Rollie Cafaro goes through quite a transformative arc as Renfield, which is particularly impressive considering how little he actually appears onstage.
Schmitz ’n Giggles’ one weekend-only production of The Comedy of Dracula...Kinda Sorta has one more performance tonight, August 13th at 7:30 pm. The show takes place at the Next Act / Renaissance Theaterworks building on 255 S. Water St. For ticket reservations, visit Next Act online.