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Tom Hewitt

by Kathy Henderson

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 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 for it.

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 thing somewhere.

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 helped.

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? Never.

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 powers."

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 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 Playhouse.

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 young women.


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 told

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 fall 2001.]

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 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 and Randy Gener. article,courtsey of Michael Portaniere and AlexKirzhner

The Passion of Dracula

Tom Hewitt seduces Melissa Errico in Dracula, The Musical.

By: Michael Portantiere


Tom Hewitt and Melissa Errico

(Photo © Alex Kirzhner)  


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."



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