Quenching the thirst for the stage…

Dracula on the stage
Aurélien Scannella as Old Dracula and Chihiro Nomura as Lucy Westenra with Matthew and Oliver Edwardson as Phantoms in Dracula (2020). Photo by Bradbury Photography

After six long months the gaslight was extinguished at His Majesty’s Theatre and West Australian Ballet returned to the stage for the opening night of Dracula.

Due to COVID-19, the amount of people allowed in theatre was restricted which I can imagine was disappointing not only for the ballet company but for many patrons who would be itching to see this unique ballet.

Premiered by West Australian Ballet in September 2018, Dracula sold out its inaugural season and received rave reviews. 

Based on Bram Stoker’s novel, West Australian Ballet’s artistic director Aurelien Scannella’s vision to bring this timeless story to the stage has created a new era in ballet. 

Celebrated Polish choreographer Krystof Pastor designed the production to be a tragic love story rather than one of horror. He said he hoped this interpretation would make audiences question whether Dracula was the villain.

Head of Music for the company Michael Brett worked alongside Pastor to bring together Wojciech Kilar’s score from the 1992 film Bram Stoker’s Dracula.

The score for this ballet is poignant, from the moment the curtain rose I was lost in the power of live dance and the orchestra. 

In this second season it felt that the dancers had come of age with the production. The musical score weaves from haunting to joyous creating a gamut of emotions played out on the stage. Pastor achieved his goal in creating a unique and tragic love story.

After six months of no live theatre, the joy of listening to Western Australian Symphony Orchestra while watching the talented dancers washed away so much of life’s stresses.  And that is exactly what art and culture should do for an audience.

The curtain rises to 15th century Transylvania. Count Dracula has been sent to war against the Turks and is rumoured to be dead. 

He doesn’t perish but, on returning home finds his wife has died by her own hand and the clergy unwilling to bury her. His grief and despair make him renounce god and humankind and transform into the blood sucking Dracula.

The story follows a young solicitor Jonathon Harker who visits Dracula to finalise the purchase of an estate in England. Little does Harker know that his fiancé is the image of the Count’s dead wife and so begins the turbulent story of Dracula in this production.

The two-act ballet features many talented dancers from the company. Artistic Director Aurelien Scannella returned to the stage to play Old Dracula with principal dancer Matthew Lehman as the younger version. Demi soloist Carina Roberts’s performance as Mina and Elizabeth was breathtaking.Principal dancer Chihiro Nomura played Lucy Westenra with grace and style and Harker was danced by Oscar Valdes.

I can never go past acknowledging the work of the principal ballet mistress and artistic associate Sandy Delaselle. Her work with the company may not be noticed by many but has changed the presence of the dancers ensuring Australia’s oldest ballet company corps de ballet dancers are world class.

Dracula is not just ballet it’s a theatrical production requiring much from the cast and as the story weaves between London and Transylvania the magnificent sets and costumes take the audience into a world which is more than ballet…

If you thirst for live theatre don’t miss this superlative production from West Australian Ballet.

Dracula plays His Majesty’s Theatre Perth until 26 September.

Tickets www.waballet.com.au – Phone 9214 0707.