WELCOME TO THE PLEASUREDOME said the blurb, which, for once, didn't lie because this production was simply breathtaking and delivered what it promised - a nightmarish ballet and moving, grooving ensemble of underworld creatures.
It was hard to believe we were walking into what was usually a school hall-come-gym because it had been transformed into a gothic world, complete with surround sound - great soundtrack too. The stage sets - spooky castles and crypts - were spectacular and enabled the cast and dancers to perform faultlessly, moving easily, effortlessly and ingeniously (look out for the human bridge) from one scene to the next.
Well, the story is one we all know and yet it still has a certain thrill … a certain compulsion with its tale of good vs. evil, love and bloodlust, beasties and other nasties that may bite in the night. There was a huge amount of energy and passion on stage and not just from the lead characters - Jos Hoetjes as Count Dracula fluctuated beautifully between creeping evil, terrifying anger and a disarming tenderness shown towards his lost love, Mina (Lucy MacVicar). Count Drac was also fully supported with more excellent singing and acting from Lord Arthur Holmwood (Guy Montgomery) and Lucy Westenra (Laura McGodrick). Van Helsin (Finn Erikson) gave a fluent and faultless performance as both narrator and participant.
What surprised me, however, was my favouritism toward Jonathan Harker (played by James Beavis) as I usually tend to prefer the bad guys and get somewhat peeved with the good guys always being victorious but not in this instance. Jonathan seemed an unassuming kind of man initially but his character developed throughout becoming stronger and more confident … as did James Beavis' performance … and the audience were with him every step of the way, especially when he took The Road To Hell (the human bridge which was a work of art … and trust!)
The Creatures also deserve a special mention because they set the scene beautifully in their Rocky Horror type outfits as they danced and entwined themselves - evilly, of course - from act to act and character to character. It was a large cast including the Vampirettes, Slaves, Ghouls, Transylvanian Villagers, Household Staff, Wedding Guests (who made wonderful statues!), the Band … and the splendid Backing Vocalists. It was a great cast and together they delivered a brilliant performance.
It was a veritable feast for the eyes and ears; it was super-slick, a bit sleazy and very professional … all in all, a bit like Count Drac himself, perhaps …
Photographs © Ken Baker
Co-Production from Rangi Ruru Girls' School & Christ's College
Written & directed by: Mike Friend
Produced by: David Chambers & Claire Bubb
Musical Director: Hamish Oliver
Choreographer: Breeze Robertson-Friend