PEMBROKE — The original story of one of history’s most famous villains will be told as a musical drama, written by local composer Mark Andersen.
Andersen, a multi-award-winning organist from Lumberton, will debut “Comte Dracula: A New Musical Drama” at the Givens Performing Arts Center in a one-night world premiere performance. The script and music were written by Andersen.
The show will premiere Oct. 27, the Saturday before Halloween.
“This is a very special show for GPAC,” said James Bass, director of the arts center and producer of the musical. “I don’t think we’ve ever world premiered a performance at GPAC in its 40 plus years. That is going to be exciting.”
The musical tells the story of how Dracula became the murderous vampire we know him as today.
“This is not the Dracula that we have known who simply goes around being horrible and killing women,” Andersen said.
In Andersen’s story, Dracula does not treat a woman well — and she happens to be the wrong woman.
This musical includes actors, ballet dancers, a full orchestra and chorus, Andersen said. He decided to label the show a “musical drama,” which falls somewhere between Broadway and opera.
“Those types of things are getting the attention of audiences across the country,” he said.
The musical came about as an outgrowth of the play “Cinderella in Spain,” which was performed at the Carolina Civic Center, Andersen said. The positive response from audience inspired him to begin working on a follow-up show. His inspiration for “Comte Dracula,” French for Count Dracula, came from a rise in popularity of vampires in media.
“I began thinking of themes that I wanted to work with,” he said. “When you are putting something like this together it’s important to look at what is captivating the public’s mind at the time and right now you just about can’t turn on the television or go to a movie or anything without something about vampires being out there.”
Andersen began working on the show’s musical concept about two years ago. He describes the process as “long and tedious.”
“Especially when you get into writing all the parts for all of the different instruments and everything,” he said. “That’s when it can really take hours, and hours, and hours and hours of time.”
Bram Stoker’s novel “Dracula” was written in 1897.
“I thought this is a perfect opportunity to bring an old story up again with a totally new twist,” Andersen said.
Many moving parts will go into the production of the large-scale show. Some students from The University of North Carolina at Pembroke will be in the chorus, but all of the lead parts will be performed by professional actors from all over the country. Andersen will conduct the orchestra. Professional ballet dancers will be in the show under the direction of choreographer Carolanne Morano. The show will be directed by UNCP Theater Director Jonathan Drahos.
“As the producer, I’m also excited to be working with some very, very talented artists on this show,” Bass said. “Jonathan Drahos is a brilliant stage director and a great friend. I’ve worked with Jonathan on a handful of productions, and I am always impressed with his style and attention to detail.”
Rehearsals for the musical will begin in August.
Representatives from the Houston Opera, the Seattle Opera and the New York City Opera are expected to be in attendance on opening night.
“This show is a very big deal,” Bass said. “It’s not often a place like Robeson County can dig deep and come up with art that is so impressive on a national level. It just doesn’t happen.
“We are blessed to have a talented composer right here in our community, and we are blessed to have the resources that UNCP can offer to make this show a reality.”
Tomeka Sinclair can be reached at [email protected] or 910-416-5865.