When you're in previews in the title role of a big Broadway musical, multitasking
is a must, so Dracula's Tom Hewitt gamely agrees to combine a Broadway.com interview
with a hair-coloring appointment. "Can you do this to me with a phone in my ear?"
he asks the colorist, then laughs at the oddity of the situation. Hewitt's Tony-nominated
star turn in The Rocky Horror Show proved he can handle just about anything, including
being hoisted above the stage of the Belasco Theatre on an vast assortment of invisible
wires as he woos Melissa Errico and delivers Frank Wildhorn's moody ballads. The
genial star spoke with diplomacy of the demands of anchoring this enormous spectacle
of a show.
Why did it take three years for Dracula to make it to Broadway after the first production
at the La Jolla Playhouse?
I don't think there's any one reason. Getting a musical on Broadway is always serendipitous.
It has to do with money and everybody's availability--it all has to come together
magically, and that's hard. And I think [the creative team] felt they needed time
to work on the show and let it develop from its first manifestation.
How has it changed?
For me, the changes have been incremental. I got some new and different songs, and
I think the overall tone of the show has a bit more drive and passion.
Did you feel sure that you would keep the part when Dracula finally opened here?
It's never a given. Des [McAnuff, the director] has always been into me, but I'm
certainly not box office. This is commercial theater, and I understand that. I'm
grateful I kept the part, but I never took for granted that I would.
This production takes quite a leap toward musical theater as spectacle. Some parts
are almost like Cirque du Soleil. Do you think it helps the show?
I don't think it hurts! We're dealing with a supernatural being, and the more spooky
gags we can get in the better. I'm asked this question a lot: Do I feel like I get
lost or overwhelmed in the midst of the special effects? I don't at all, I think
they enhance and empower the character. It's not about me--it's about Dracula, and
his context is magical and supernatural. So I love the flying, I love dropping into
that big pit, and I love riding on all that stuff onstage. I think it's great! Let's
give the people a show. Why not?
I was surprised that Des McAnuff addressed the audience before the fifth preview
began, warning us that the show might have to stop for technical glitches.
We really appreciate him doing that because it gives us permission to stop if we
feel danger. This is a really complex set; there are seven elevators in the floor
and three flying tracks; the set seems to be in constant motion, and every step you
take could be your last. It's hard and it's dangerous and we're still figuring things
out. The likelihood of us stopping is strong, so he's wise to alert people; it, it
makes us feel safer.
Frank Wildhorn has never been a critical favorite. Do you think this show is going
to change that?
I don't know. Historically, the critics have not been very kind to him, but criticism
is none of my business. My business is to show up and do the best I can. I think
our title is going to help us sell, and I think the show is good. We've gotten enthusiastic
response already, and I think we may succeed even though there may be some negative
reviews. It's a musical with vampires, so that's bound to happen and we're all braced
How you would sum up the appeal of Dracula?
Well, the appeal has certainly been long lasting [Laughs], and it doesn't seem to
go away; in fact it seems to grow and grow. As a child, I was raised on the Bela
Lugosi movie and Barnabas Collins in Dark Shadows, and I loved the Anne Rice books.
It seems like every time you turn on the television, there's some vampire-related
How did you come up with your take on the character?
The first third of the show is based largely on the novel, so I studied the novel
very closely. But for me a lot of this job is not doing anything. I get to show up
in Cathy Zuber's great costumes and Howell Binkley's great lights and Heidi Ettinger's
fantastic set; I let the set do a lot of the acting for me. Des McAnuff repeatedly
uses the phrase "The court makes the king." So it's really how people behave toward
Dracula's presence as opposed to how Dracula behaves.
Your Dracula doesn't try to charm the audience.
You don't find me charming? [Laughs]
What I mean is that you don't seem to be trying to win the audience over; you aren't
putting humor into the role or playing it with a twinkle in your eye.
Those decisions aren't up to me. I love big, broad characterizations, and if I were
left to my own devices, I'd probably [Launches into an unintelligible sentence in
a Transylvanian accent]. It took a little work for Des to rein that in.
He told you to play it seriously.
Yeah, pretty much. That's not an exact quote, but we really tried to steer away from
the campier aspects of the character. They're there regardless, so you don't have
to lay them on with a trowel.
I found it interesting that you stayed in character during the curtain call.
That may change, I think they want me to smile for the last bow, but right now they've
told me not to smile. That's a little weird!
You have good chemistry with Melissa Errico. Did it come naturally?
The minute I met her, there was something going on there. I knew we would be a good
match. She's not only stunning looking and great in the part, but she said to me,
"Okay, I've got your back and you've got mine. Let's look out for each other." And
we have. It's been really fun and absolutely effortless in that regard.
How do you feel about the nudity in the show? [Hewitt rips Melissa Errico's top open
in one scene, and co-star Kelli O'Hara is totally nude with her back to the audience
in another.] Is it necessary?
Those decisions aren't up to me, but I don't mind it, There's a dangerous sensuality
in Bram Stoker's novel that manifested itself in covert, oppressed Victorian ways.
To get any sort of sexual danger on the stage, we have to be more overt, more up
to date. So I think that's why it's there, I don't think it's gratuitous; I think
it's there for a reason.
I find it fascinating that you didn't do musicals for the first 20 years of your
career. Was that a conscious choice?
Partly. I was never uninterested in musicals, but I never really felt I was a strong
enough singer; I thought Broadway musicals were for famous people and great singers
and dancers and I wasn't those things. My training was in the classics and I had
a good life in the avant garde and regional theater, so musicals were never really
an aspiration. But through that [avant garde] world, I met Julie Taymor who cast
me as Scar in The Lion King, and I've only done musicals since then.
Did you find your classical background helpful for doing musicals?
It has definitely served me well in playing these larger than life characters. You
know, Frank 'N' Furter [in The Rocky Horror Show] is royalty, Dracula is royalty.
In their way, these are classic, mythical characters, so all of that background really
Is your real-life personality larger than life?
Oh my God, no. And my partner would certainly agree. I go home and grab the remote
as fast as I can. I don't go to bars, I'm not really a party guy. I'm really quiet
and have few friends. [Laughs] I get to let all that out onstage in a controlled
and rehearsed environment.
Is your partner in the business?
Yes, he's an actor.
Would I know who he is?
I'd rather not say. We've agreed not to talk about each other.
Fair enough. I read that you enjoy being anonymous. You've never wished that at this
point in your career you were a big sitcom star or doing movies?
No, no, no--this is big enough for me right now! I'm not too interested in playing
doctors or lawyers or the funny guy next door. Maybe eventually, in my dotage, I'll
do that; I've got a lot of years left. But I'm having fun doing this. It's enough.
Believe me, it's plenty!
Is this what you pictured yourself doing, say, five years ago?
Never in my wildest dreams. I thought The Lion King was a fluke and I that I would
go back to doing classical plays in regional theater. I would still love to do that;
I'm not speaking disparagingly of that. But to be the title character in a big musical?
There's no secret you can share for being sexy on stage?
That's for the audience to decide. I always hope that another character will say
I'm sexy so the audience will believe it. [Laughs]
So, is Bob Cuccioli [original star of Frank Wildhorn's Jekyll & Hyde] going to be
your special guest on opening night?
I'm going to have Doug Sills [of The Scarlet Pimpernel] on one arm and Bob Cuccioli
on the other!
Full Cast of Dracula Announced from Playbill on line
Full Cast of Dracula, the Musical Includes Battle, Hoch, O'Hara, Stephenson; Tix
on Sale June 6
By Kenneth Jones
27 May 2004
Full casting has been announced for Dracula, the Musical, the first new musical
of the 2004-05 Broadway season.
Joining Tom Hewitt (The Rocky Horror Show) as Dracula and Melissa Errico (Amour)
as Mina Murray will be three-time Tony Award-winner Hinton Battle as Van Helsing,
Don Stephenson (The Producers) as Renfield, Darren Ritchie (Bells Are Ringing) as
Jonathan Harker, Kelli O'Hara (Sweet Smell of Success) as Lucy Westenra, Chris Hoch
(Beauty and the Beast) as Arthur Holmwood, Shonn Wiley (42nd Street) as Jack Seward
and Bart Shatto (The Civil War, the national tour of The Civil War) as Quincey Morris.
Battle won three acting Tonys for his respective work in Miss Saigon, Sophisticated
Ladies and The Tap Dance Kid.
The company also includes Celina Carvajal, Melissa Fagan, Jenifer Foote, Anthony
Holds (St. Louis Rep's The Last 5 Years) , Pamela Jordan, Elizabeth Loyocano, Tracy
Miller, Graham Rowat (The Thing About Men the national tour of Les Miz), Megan Sikora
(Thoroughly Modern Millie) and Chuck Wagner (the original Into the Woods).
Performances begin at the Belasco Theatre (rumored to be haunted) July 19 toward
an opening Aug. 16.
With book and lyrics by Christopher Hampton (Les Liaisons Dangereuses) and Don Black
(Sunset Blvd., Aspects of Love) and music by Frank Wildhorn (The Scarlet Pimpernel),
Dracula is directed by Des McAnuff (Big River, The Who's Tommy) and produced by Dodger
Stage Holding and Joop van den Ende, in association with Clear Channel Entertainment.
"Dracula is a new musical vision of romance, terror and temptation based on the Bram
Stoker classic novel," according to the producers. "Set in Europe at the end of the
Victorian Age, the production follows Dracula's lust for new blood and a small band
of mortal men and women who must face his overwhelming seduction and mesmeric supernatural
Choreography is by Mindy Cooper. Scenic design is by Heidi Ettinger; costume design
is by Catherine Zuber; lighting design is by Howell Binkley, sound design is by ACME
Sound Partners. Aerial staging is by Rob Besserer, with Flying by Foy. Orchestrations
are by Doug Besterman, with musical direction by Constantine Kitsopoulos.
During previews (July 19-August 14), performances are Monday-Saturday at 8 PM, with
matinees Wednesday and Saturday at 2 PM. After Aug. 24, performances are Tuesday-Saturday
at 8 PM, with matinees Wednesday and Saturday at 2 PM, Sunday at 3 PM. "Tuesday at
7" performances begin Sept. 7.
Tickets will go on sale via phone and Internet on June 6 at www.telecharge.com or
(212) 239-6200 and (800) 223 7565. Box office at the Belasco Theatre, 111 W. 44th
Street, opens June 7.
Tickets for preview performances (July 19-August 14) are $60 if ordered before July
18. After opening, tickets are $101.25-$36.50.
Director McAnuff received Tony Awards for his Broadway stagings of Big River (1985)
and The Who's Tommy (1993). He directed Lee Blessing's A Walk in the Woods on Broadway
in 1988 and in Moscow and Lithuania in 1989-90. He artistic director of La Jolla
Hewitt was Tony Award-nominated for his turn as Frank 'N' Furter in the 2001 revival
of The Rocky Horror Show. His other Broadway credits include The Boys from Syracuse,
The Lion King, Art and The Sisters Rosensweig as well as the national tour of Urinetown.
Errico, who recently starred in Irish Rep's Finian's Rainbow Off-Broadway, earned
a 2003 Tony Award nomination for Amour. The actress has also appeared in Sunday in
the Park With George (Kennedy Center Sondheim Celebration), My Fair Lady, High Society,
Anna Karenina, Les Misérables and Off-Broadway's recent Aunt Dan and Lemon.
The musical had a workshop in December 2003. Based on the legendary Bram Stoker character,
Dracula was originally mounted at San Diego's La Jolla Playhouse in October 2001.
Although the musical has been revised since that time, that staging was praised for
its lush score, sexy bloodsuckers, the cast's acrobatics and for the special effects
that helped heighten the thrill of the terrifying supernatural romance.
In La Jolla, Tom Hewitt starred as the vampire count, aging backwards from a 70-year-old
Transylvanian in his castle into a handsome thirtysomething seducing London's beautiful
La Jolla (old cast)Full Cast Announced for Frank Wildhorn's New Dracula Musical
by Randy Gener
La Jolla, CA -- Broadway's sweet, transvestite is preparing to morph into a blood-sucking
Transylvanian legend. Tom Hewitt, the star of the Broadway revival of The Rocky Horror
Show, has just signed up to originate the title role of Frank Wildhorn's new project,
Dracula, the Musical.
Hewitt's last performance as Dr. Frank N. Furter is Aug. 19, producer Jordan Roth
According to the office of Dave Clemmons Casting, the rest of the Dracula cast is
as follows: Amy Rutberg as Lucy, Jenn Morse as Mina, Tom Flynn as Van Helsing, Joe
Cassidy as Jack Seward, Chris Hoch as Arthur, Lee Morgan as Quincy, Bill Youmans
as Renfield, Tom Stewart as Harker, as well as Jekyll alums Guy Lemonier and Jodie
Stevens. There are also seven other roles comprising of chorus of female vampires,
but casting for those is not yet completed.
Dracula marks a milestone in the professional career of Hewitt, since it's the first
major Broadway musical for which he is originating a title character. The Rocky Horror
revival has been a breakout role for the actor, after years of mostly replacing other
actors in major Broadway shows. At about the same time he was cast in Rocky Horror
, Hewitt was playing another outsized role, Scar in the Disney's The Lion King. A
Montana native, he's appeared on Broadway in Yasmina Reza's Art, Wendy Wasserstein's
The Sisters Rosensweig and Richard Brinsley Sheridan's The School for Scandal.
Meanwhile, Wildhorn has decided to adjust the title of this long-awaited Broadway-bound
musical. Originally announced as the Musical Dracula, the show has been retitled
Dracula, the Musical. It will receive its world premier at La Jolla Playhouse in
Previews begins Tuesday, Oct. 2, with an opening night slated for Oct. 14.
With a book by Christopher Hampton (translator of Art) and lyrics by Don Black, Wildhorn's
Dracula will be directed by Des McAnuff, who steered The Who's Tommy to Broadway.
Wildhorn previously told BroadwayOnline.com that Dracula is a pop Gothic piece, firmly
in the tradition of Jekyll and Hyde. Dracula was initially discussed for Las Vegas
but, Wildhorn said seemed likelier for Broadway.
Atlantic Records will issue the show's original cast recording at a date TBA.
Said McAnuff, "I'm drawn to ... Dracula because of the sheer theatricality of the
material. After all, Bram Stoker, who wrote the original novel upon which our musical
is based, was a great man of the theatre.
McAnuff continued: "As the manager of the famous English actor Sir Henry Irving and
of London's Lyceum Theatre, he was kind of 19th century artistic director."
Wildhorn has had three shows on Broadway in recent years: Jekyll & Hyde, The Scarlet
Pimpernel and The Civil War. Broadway's Jekyll & Hyde closed in January 2001 after
a three-year run, but was shown on PPV cable TV March 10 and is now available on
DVD and videocassette.
Dracula: The Musical is actually the last show in La Jolla's 2001-2002 season. Des
McAnuff also opened his own musical The collected Works of Billy the Kidd, June 17,
which is co-directed with Kate Whorisky. McAnuff wrote the music and English Patient
author Michael Ondaatje wrote the show's book.
Subscriptions are now on sale through the box office at (858) 550-1010.
Article courtesy of http://www.broadwayonline.com and Randy Gener.
Theatremania.com article,courtsey of Michael Portaniere and AlexKirzhner
The Passion of Dracula
Tom Hewitt seduces Melissa Errico in Dracula, The Musical.
You can't kill a great story, or its central character. There have been countless
stage and film adaptations of Bram Stoker's 1897 novel Dracula over the past century
-- everything from Bela Lugosi's Dracula to Andy Warhol's Dracula to Frank Langella's
Dracula. And let's not forget Blacula! But, surprisingly, it is only now that the
undead Transylvanian count is about to make his Broadway musical debut.
Truth to tell, Dracula, The Musical -- the Frank Wildhorn-Don Black-Christopher Hampton
adaptation of the classic tale -- was supposed to come to New York soon after its
world premiere production at the La Jolla Playhouse in the fall of 2001. So, why
the delay? "The reviews weren't really strong and it was pretty obvious that the
show still needed a little bit of work," says Tom Hewitt, who played Dracula in La
Jolla and has returned to the role now that the musical is about to open at the Belasco.
"There were several readings between the end of the run in La Jolla and the beginning
of rehearsals now. I would say that 30-40% of the show is completely different. But
the biggest change has been in the scenery; John Arnone designed the sets in La Jolla
and Heidi Ettinger has done them now. The whole aesthetic, the look of the show is
vastly different. I would say it's more suggestive, less representational.
"I love to play mythical characters," Hewitt enthuses. "Dracula is animated by something
other than the life force and it interests me to explore how he moves. How do I manifest
that energy? God bless our director, Des McAnuff; he's constantly pulling me back
and steering me more toward naturalistic, recognizable human behavior. I can't get
all kabuki with this. I can't alienate the audience with bizarre behavior -- as much
as I would like to!"
Playing opposite Hewitt as Mina Murray is the luminous Melissa Errico, who says:
"Our show is very true to the original Bram Stoker novel. Dracula is primarily a
force of evil in the book but there is also the romantic element. To me, page 283
of that book is the sexiest page ever written. Read it! Start on page 283 and go
to 286. I had a party and I pulled a bunch of girls over; I read that part of the
book to them and they were like, 'Holy cow, that's hot!' I mean, Jonathan Harker
is in bed with Mina when Dracula comes to visit her. It's this crazy female fantasy
of being ravaged by some other man while your husband's right there."
According to everyone involved in Dracula, The Musical, the show's tone is completely
different from that of such post-modern musical comedies as Urinetown, Avenue Q,
and -- heaven forbid! -- the 2002 Broadway mega-flop Dance of the Vampires. "This
is not some kind of campy bodice-ripper," Errico declares. "We're not doing a musical
comedy. We could have; a lot of very funny Dracula movies were made in the '60s and
'70s. But we're just not going there. I actually find what we're doing a little post-modern
insofar as it's authentically emotional. I think there's nothing hipper than Freud,
and Dracula definitely dives into psychoanalysis -- the layers, the aspects of a
person's nature that are unreconciled. What are the other sides of yourself and what
would happen if you were to lose self-control? What if you allowed desire to rule
your life? Dracula pops the cork on a lot of that stuff, as it were.
"We have a very superficial culture today," Errico continues. "Everyone's on reality
TV, everything is up front. But is it really true? The mystery of the human character
is something we're exploring in our show; we're embracing what's unknown. I think
that's much more interesting than spewing out 'reality.'" Asked to describe how the
score of Dracula compares to previous Frank Wildhorn efforts, Errico says: "I've
never seen a Frank Wildhorn show. I find that so curious! I can't say how this score
is similar to or different from the others but I can say that it's very romantic.
Frank really understands the way to combine romantic and modern sounds."
Says Tom Hewitt, "I think people are going to get the tone of the show the minute
they walk into the theater and see the pre-set for the opening number. It's creepy
and poetic. There are some intentionally humorous moments in the show but they mostly
involve the human characters. It's not, 'Let's laugh at the goofy vampire!' The look
of the show is a combination of a beautiful turn-of-the-century sensibility with
modern, up-to-the-minute light and scenic effects that I've never seen before. There's
Tiffany glass all over the theater and covering the lights on the ceiling. It's remarkable."
The legend of the Belasco is that it's a haunted house. Does Hewitt expect to run
into any ghosts while playing Dracula? "Well," he says, "I was hanging around up
in the mezzanine the other day when the house lights were out and, I'll tell you,
it was spooky! The dark corners of that theater are full of drafts and weirdness.
There's definitely some creepitude going on in the place."