Ever since I was a little girl, I have been a dedicated fan of classic horror films - you know, the films where Lon Chaney, Bela Lugosi, Vincent Price and Boris Karloff took you to deep and musty dungeons, to the darkness of the night with a full moon, and into creepy places where you would meet evil. Pure evil. YES. To this day, I will watch these movies with the excitement and anticipation of a 12-year-old.

By Trish Morgan
For the News Tribune
Ever since I was a little girl, I have been a dedicated fan of classic horror films - you know, the films where Lon Chaney, Bela Lugosi, Vincent Price and Boris Karloff took you to deep and musty dungeons, to the darkness of the night with a full moon, and into creepy places where you would meet evil. Pure evil. YES. To this day, I will watch these movies with the excitement and anticipation of a 12-year-old.
Last week, as I walked in to the Cumberland Theatre, I immediately was captivated by the eerie, spooky and mysterious atmosphere created for the theatre's production of Bram Stoker's "Dracula.” Oh yes, I knew this suspenseful and seductive story would be only a slight comparison to the Lugosi we all remember and love. I was quivering with anticipation while I admired the castle and the asylum, and soon, I would be transported back into the 1800s where vampires loomed.
Director Sam Little - who has a tremendous portfolio of acting, television shows, stage combatant and stunt performance, comedic and musical shows, cast directing from Florida to Pennsylvania - was selected to make his directorial debut at Cumberland Theatre. A choice worth every bite, every moment of powerful dramatic effects - with an audience pulled in to 1897 with haunting, chilling music by Chris McCabe.
For those of you who read my reviews, you know I am a true fan of the artistic talents of Rhett Wolford - who, like Sam, wears many hats with perfection. For this production, he and his team created a remote Transylvanian castle - almost a character in itself. A castle that is opened up to the audience with wicked secrets and special effects lending to evil and mystery.
Then there is Rhett Wolford as R.M. Renfield. Locked and chained in solitary confinement amidst filth, disgusting rats and his caged bird - Rhett was immediately an audience favorite. Crazy, insane, deprived of the normalcy of life, living in this asylum with dirty, sneaky creatures and crawling insects as if they were his only comforts of life. Rhett - what an absolutely impressive performance. Well studied, my friend. Well delivered. Encore, Encore!
Yuri Lomakin as Count Dracula. Oh, I felt his overwhelming need to feed to survive, I felt his desire for the beautiful Lucy Westenra (Kimberli Rowley) - his seduction, the way he had such power over her innocence. His Lucy...he must have her at all costs. Yuri, you mastered every emotion of an immortal man - destined to live forever on the blood of others...and destined to suffer forever and ever - for all time.
Rowley and Courtney Feiman (Mina Murray) played friends fresh in youthful innocence - speaking of the flowers of love and hope eternal. But, those dreams are soon to be enveloped in evil despair. Kimberli was drawn to the Count with no power to say no, and as always, she commands her role and never disappoints. The intimate choreography - goosebumps Kimberli and Yuri. Special, sultry, hungry...so perfect.
Courtney has such a way with accents and stage presence, and her voice is always clear and heard. When Courtney performs at Cumberland Theatre, I am there. She is comfortable and masterful with all of her roles. Taking on Mina in "Dracula" - good call.
Always, it is challenging for a reviewer to choose worthy mentions within the scope of available print space requirements when coming to Cumberland Theatre. Everything is like a well-oiled machine. Stage managment, props, make-up, costumes, set, lighting and sound design, choreography, special effects (wait until you see THESE!), music to accentuate the vivid moments. All par excellence here.
It is clearly evident that CT orchestrates everything so that the theater-goer can come to this theatre for a memorable experience. For this show, we travel vicariously into the late Victorian-era, and leave feeling we were part of Transylvania and London for two hours...hiding in his estate from the Count who hungered for us. Incredible. Chilling.
Also starring in "Dracula" are Matt Baughman (Dr. John Seward), Brady DelVecchio (Jonathan Harker) and Jim Wicker (Abraham Van Helsing). Supporting players are Tim Bambara, Emily Haworth, Connor McCabe and Leo Wollan.
Production staff and crew: Sam Little (director), Chris E. McCabe (music accompaniment), Abby Schneck (stage manager), Tim Bambara (assistant stage manager), Jennifer Clark (costume design), Rhett Wolford (set design), Sarah Usary (stage manager), Xander Muldor (lighting design), Brendon McCabe (sound design), Dana Bridges (props design), Jessica Morgan (intimacy choreographer), Tai Baumann (light/sound technician), Melissa Breighner (special effects make-up), and Hunter Dickson (deck crew).
As the playright Steven Dietz himself says, "Secrecy breeds invasion. Darkness begets darkness. The shadow has been cast. The clues are here. The story awaits. What will happen tonight?"
Six performances remain on Saturday, Oct 19, at 8 p.m., and Sunday, Oct 20, at 2 p.m. The final four performances will be Thursday-Saturday, Oct 24-26, at 8 p.m., and final curtain at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Oct 27.
For reservations or ticket information, call 301-759-4990, or visit their Facebook page:
https://www.facebook.com/cumberlandtheatre/