|Clara Fable (Viper) - James Smart (Onyx) - Heart Attack Twins (Molly Kealey - Amber Flaherty)|
in "Dracula's Resurrections Tour"
Directed and Choreographed by Adelaide Clarke – Additional Choreography by Michael Ralph – Lighting Design by Reuben Willmot – Sound Design by JTAP.
Presented by Newman Entertainment – Canberra Theatre, May 4 – 6, 2023.
Opening night performance on May 4 reviewed by BILL STEPHENS.
Making its first visit to Canberra “Dracula’s Resurrection Tour” proved not only a resurrection but also a revelation.
This is hardly surprising because Dracula’s Resurrection Tour is the latest iteration of a family business which can trace its pedigree back to Melbourne in 1964 when Tikki and John Newman opened their tiny 120-seat late-night coffee house in Exhibition Street with the idea of attracting the crowds as they left the theatres.
It was an inspirational idea because “Tikki and John’s” quickly evolved into Australia’s first theatre restaurant, over the years employing some of Australia best known variety entertainers and offering fully produced shows along with dinner. It became so successful that patrons often had to book a year in advance to secure a table.
Over the years the family business became a dynasty when the Newman’s two sons and daughter became involved in another Newman inspiration, “Dracula’s” which was born out of an opportunity to buy an old warehouse in a Melbourne backstreet which the Newmans transformed into Dracula’s haunted castle staffed by ghoulish characters.
As with “Tikki and John’s”, Dracula’s quickly became another Melbourne institution. so popular that when a second Dracula’s was opened on the Gold Coast in 1985, this time run by the third generation of the Newman Entertainment dynasty, it too became the go-to destination for Gold Coast holiday makers in search of adventurous party-time entertainment.
“Dracula’s Resurrection Tour” is Dracula’s latest iteration, presented under the watchful eye of third-generation Newman CEO, Luke Newman.
Promising ‘some of the best acts from Dracula’s vault, splashed in blood and covered in glitter…live rock music, sultry burlesque, jaw to the floor costumes and razor-edged comedy’; “Dracula’s Resurrection Tour” delivers all of that, supported by imaginative direction, classy choreography and excellent production values.
The first surprise comes on entering the Canberra Theatre foyer, which for the season has been converted into an approximation of Dracula’s castle, replete with mouldering concrete statuary; a well-stocked kiosk offering essential Dracula merchandise, and a bar offering blood-bag cocktails.
Ghouls in heavy goth makeup roamed the foyer surprising the arriving audience, some of whom had taken the opportunity to dig out their Rocky Horror gear.
Inside, these same ghouls revved up the audience by chasing each other around the auditorium armed with chainsaws. Then, as a coffin was wheeled on to the stage, a huge neon ‘Dracula’ sign rose slowly heralding a spectacular opening number which introduced the entire multi-talented cast including no fewer than three comperes; Onyx (James Smart), Viper (Clara Fable) and Vladimir (William Rogers), dancers, the Heart-Attack twins (Molly Kealey and Amber Flaherty), and aerialists, Duo Synergy (Scott Lazarevich and Emma Goh), accompanied by rock guitarist, Viola Skyes and drummer, Lachlan Neate.
|Clara Fable (Viper) and the Heart Attack Twins (Molly Kealey - Amber Flaherty|
A succession of slick variety acts followed, each superbly staged and executed. In two of the impressively staged production numbers, Viper is revealed, not only as a talented vocalist but as an accomplished and stylish striptease artist. In one, she escapes from a gilded cage to disrobe elegantly with the assistance of the Heart-Attack twins wielding huge black feather fans, then later performs a bluesy song perched languorously in the palm of a huge mechanical hand which wraps its fingers around her.
|Clara Fable (viper)|
Besides being an affable host adept at delivering a stream of funny, topical, off-colour witticisms, Vladimir revealed himself as an expert mime whose clever duet with a vacuum cleaner, and later vain efforts to control a recalcitrant baby in a pram, had the audience in stitches.
Onyx impressed with his rich rock vocals and comedic chops, but also made quite an impression by revealing rather more of himself in a cheeky dance number in which he and Vladimir shared some tricky moments manipulating their large bath towels.
|Duo Synergy - (Emma Goh -Scott Lazarevich|
Duo Synergy presented several heart-stopping acrobatic routines, sometimes spinning on straps high above the stage, then spinning dangerously on roller skates, or executing adagio acrobatics in the production numbers.
Clever use of black light featured in two particularly memorable items which harkened back to vaudeville days. One featured a group of sperm singing “When I was a sperm I had a lot to Learn”, and another had four puppets singing an arresting version of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody”.
By the time the show reached its dazzling finale which again featured the entire cast and some impressive pyrotechnics, one final surprise was the realisation that the success of Dracula’s is not only its clever Transylvanian theme, but also its clever mix of variety, revue, burlesque and circus, and the sustained excellence of its performers and performances, always the hallmark of Tikki and Johns, which has been its golden ticket which has kept audiences coming back again and again.