DURYEA — Vampire hunter Van Helsing, portrayed by 26-year-old Katie-Louise Fidiam, of Dunmore, enters a cemetery to check out a grave, and realizes the coffin that once held poor Lucy Westenra — so young, so pretty, so recently deceased — is empty. Uh-oh.
But what’s this? Here’s Lucy — and she’s still dead; just look at those eyes! — emerging from the shadows in a long, white gown, holding 7-year-old Mason Haddick, of Duryea, by the hand and slowly leading him through a somber minuet.
This must be what fellow cast member Halle O’Neil, 18, of Clarks Summit, was talking about when she said the Phoenix Theatrics production of “Dracula, the Musical,” set for Aug. 10 through Aug. 19, is “not really scary, but it has some eerie and creepy moments.”
Moments turned creepier during a recent rehearsal as Lucy, played by 17-year-old Sarah Neel, of Wyoming, leaned in to bite the little boy’s neck and was rebuffed by Van Helsing and his companions, who were carrying crucifixes, a stake and other weapons.
Lucy put up a fight, clawing like an animal, but ended up back in her coffin where her grieving husband Arthur drove a stake into her heart to prevent further roaming. Ouch.
Sometimes love hurts, and not just for vampire-victim Lucy and the broken-hearted Arthur.
“Dracula, the Musical” centers on a love triangle involving the Transylvanian count, Lucy’s friend Mina, and Mina’s husband Jonathan.
O’Neil, who plays Mina, said she won’t be surprised if audience members root for Mina to choose the mysterious and captivating Dracula over nice, normal, human Jonathan.
“I think they’ll side more with Dracula, only because the romance is so intense,” she said. “They sing such beautiful, haunting melodies and, even though you know it’s not right, you want her to go to the dark side.”
“Dracula can be a character you feel empathy for, and also you can hate him when he tries to steal loved ones from other people, ” said Jason Malone, 19, of Carbondale, who has the title role.
In this musical version of the Bram Stoker classic, Dracula pursues Mina in England, where he ventured from Transylvania because he wanted to build a new empire for himself.
“While he’s trying to do that,” Malone said, “he slips into falling in love.”
Yes, Malone said. Dracula’s feelings for Mina involve true love, not just a desire to possess her.
He believes audiences will enjoy the songs in the musical, including his favorite, “It’s Over,” which Dracula sings with Van Helsing.
Fidiam, who plays the intrepid vampire hunter Van Helsing, said she finds the show’s subject matter fascinating. When she saw “Lestat,” which is based on Ann Rice’s vampire novels, on Broadway several years ago, she knew, “That’s the kind of show I want to do.”
As for the cult-classic TV show about a teen-age vampire slayer, Fidiam has seen only one episode. But, she said with a laugh, that was enough for her to understand why “My mom’s been calling me ‘Buffy.’ “
Director Lee Lachette said she’s proud of her cast and the set, which includes several hand-built coffins designed to fit the actors plus a real casket borrowed from a funeral home.
Reach Mary Therese Biebel at 570-991-6109 or on Twitter @BiebelMT