David Fanning is Dracula

David Fanning is Dracula in the Gaslight Theatre's "The Vampire"

The Gaslight Theatre has found a way to keep the vampire trope alive with its newest show, just in time to kick off the Halloween season. Aptly named “The Vampire,” this longtime fan-favorite has flown back to the stage, and is a re-imagined tale of the world’s most famous blood sucker, Count Dracula. 

Traveling from Transylvania to England, the count is on a mission: He’s out to create British vampires and find his vampire-wife. 

Dracula’s desires (expectedly) run into some trouble in the form of some well-to-do Brits, including the famous Dr. Van Helsing, who lends a hand to stop the spread of evil into England.

Don’t worry, parents and grandparents, it’s all very kid-friendly and the “good guys” come out on top.

Donning fake teeth and a long black cape as the lord of vampires is David Fanning. As the production’s leading role, Fanning is a well-polished Dracula with just enough of the classic Gaslight charm to deliver a wholly entertaining performance whenever he’s on stage.

Joining Fanning are most of the same names and faces any regular theater-goer has come to expect from Tucson’s goofy Broadway, each of whom find plenty of time to entertain. Dracula’s love interest, Mina, is played by Heather Stricker; Mike Yarema plays Mina’s husband, Dr. Seward; and Dr. Van Helsing is handled by David Orley. Filling in more minor character roles are Todd Thompson as Mr. Buttersworth, Jacob Brown as Alfred, Erin Thompson as Miss Wills and Janée Page as Lucy.

Each actor once again proves why they belong on the Gaslight Stage, and my only disappointment in the performances was a relatively low number of superfluous shimmies from Todd Thompson—who only performed the move twice during my showing.

Standing above the rest of his compatriots was (once again) the hilarious Joe Cooper, who played Mr. Renfield. While everyone at the Gaslight is a competent actor/singer/comedian, Cooper has found a way to steal any scene at whim with his delivery, stage presence, funny faces and adlibbed lines when he seemingly forgets them. 

It’s all true to the Gaslight’s goofy persona.

A show at the theatre not only includes acting, but plenty of song and dance, too, and “The Vampire” delivers on that tradition in spades. Plus, there’s more than a few silly puns and bad jokes to top things off.

Adapted from Bram Stoker’s classic, this 19th century romp through England was written and directed by Peter Van Slyke, with brilliant musical direction from Linda Achermann and choreography by Katherine Byrnes. The Gaslight crew also pulled off an impressive bit of decorating work in reimagining the stage to fit the gothic theme and assembling several high-quality backdrops. And to make sure the cast’s acting doesn’t go to waste, the costume shop delivered once again.

Don’t head out the door once “The Vampire” comes to a close, because the Halloween spirit is far from finished—there’s always an olio. This time around, it’s “Wolfman Jack’s Howl-O-Ween Olio,” including musical renditions of “The Adams Family,” “Monster Mash” “Beetle Juice” and plenty more.

Catch “The Vampire” at The Gaslight Theatre, 7010 E. Broadway Blvd., through Nov. 4. For more information, including show times and ticket prices, go to thegaslighttheatre.com or call the box office at 886-9428.

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