For its season opener at the Publick Playhouse, Prince George's Little Theater pocked "Count Dracula," the passionate vampire's tale that is currently delighting Broadway audiences. Filled with reliable scare tricks such as shots and screams in the dark and suitable menacing dialogue, (At one point, Dracula declines dinner, saying the generally sups later) the play has wide appeal.
As the villain-hero, Dracula dominates the play. No one really cares much about his pursuers, they are necessary but uninteresting. In the Prince George's Little Theater production, Jeff Beynon was a rather tame Dracula. He did convey some of the vampire's evil fascination in the second act, but he could have won the audience's heart if he had been a trule sinister presence.
Apart from inconsistent English accents, the cast was solid, with Rod Wiesinger givingg an alternately funny and frightening portrayal of the twisted Renfield and Susan Fridy giving a finely detailed creation of the tipping sister.
Much of the play's atmosphere depends on sound and stage effects, some of which involve tricky timing. Most of the effects were well conceived and executed. A notable exception was the recalcitrant artificial bat, which might have been easier to manage and more effective if done in some kind of projection, to suggest just one option.
Costumes were confusing chronologically. Mina looked Victorian, Sybil like a flapper. Dr. Seward and Jonathan looked post-World War II.
The Little Theater's next offering will be "An Evening of One Acts," scheduled for January at the Publick Playhouse.
During recent years, major changes have occurred in virtually every field of the arts. Most of us need a little help in understanding what has taken place.
A pleasant and effective way to learn about those changes is "Mondays at 101" a weekly colloquium sponsored by the Humanities Institute of Montgomery College at Takoma Park.
A recent talk by Washington area composer Lawrence Moss was typical of the series approach.
Moss took apart the pieces of his new multimedia composition, "Nightscapes," which performed at the college this week after a premiere at the Corcoran Gallery. In an informal and informative manner Moss showed that his multimedia works are a logical extension of his earlier opera compositions. After the talk, there was an opportunity to meet the composer in the art gallery.
Running from September through December and February through May, "Mondays at 101" meets at 1:01 p.m. in room 101 of the college Pavillion of Fine Arts Demonstrations, lectures and performances are given by a variety of persons active in the arts in the Washington area. Included in this year's calendar are film critic Davey Marlin James, sculpter Bert Shumutzhart, poet Roderick Jellema and painist Barbro Dahlman.
The public is welcome to attend the free series and may obtain a copy of the schedule by calling 5874090, ext. 248. Each program lasts about an hour.
Not long ago, The New Yorker ran a cartoon which depicted a dog husband looking anxiously over the breakfast table at his cat wife and wondering why the two of them never got along. Humorist James Thurber would have relished the cartoon, as his play "The Male Animal" clearly confirms.
Presented by the University Players as the second offering of its season at the University of Maryland, "The Male Animal" was written by Thurber 40 years ago in collaboration with Elliott Nugent. Resting solidly on stereotypes from what Thurber called "The War Between the Sexes," the play could be dull, even offensive, in these ERA times if the comic writing were not so strong. The author touches on the issue of academic freedom but never heavily enough to disturb the flow of humor from the triangle of a professor husband, his wife and an ex-football player, her old boyfriend.
To bring off this finely balanced comedy is no easy matter. The University Theater players are to be congratulated on doing as well as they did. The cast looked right and, for the most part, caught the kind of playful seriousness the plot requires. With a little help from James Stewart, Rick Inguanti did well as the cannily confused husband.With the help of delighfully drooping eyebrows, Leonor Chaves was his properly anguished wife, Ervin Ambrose made a suitably suave rival.
The next University Theater production will be "The Country Wife," an English Restoration comedy, in February.