Seldom are the words “the show must go on” more appropriate than when death occurs during auditions and the rehearsal period of a show. And despite the untimely demise of Pioneer Playhouse Artistic Director Holly Henson, “Dracula Bites,” the season opener at the summerstock theater, will open Friday.
Playhouse managing director Robby Henson is directing “Dracula Bites.” He answered a few questions about the play, written by the playwrights of last summer’s “Don’t Cry For Me, Margaret Mitchell.”
A-M: What is “Dracula Bites” about?
RH: “Dracula Bites” is about a New York City fringe director arriving in a rural North Carolina town to direct an unusual and challenging production of “Dracula” — whether the townsfolk are ready for it or not.
A-M: Why was “Dracula Bites” chosen for production this season?
RH: We had huge success last year with “Don’t Cry for Me, Margaret Mitchell” by the same authors, the son and mother playwrighting team of Duke Ernsberger and Virgina Cate. And so when we heard they had also authored a Dracula comedy, it sounded like a lot of fun. “Dracula Bites” has a zany mix of farce and gothic horror. Since Ernsberger and Cate are from North Carolina, they understand the Southern backdrop very, very well. Ernsberger and Cate are unfortunately not nationally known but they are hugely popular at regional Southern theaters like Barter Theater in Virginia. That’s where we heard about them.
A-M: Who are the key players in “Dracula Bites”?
RH: We have a veteran group of playhouse actors returning who are crowd favorites with our audience. Chris Kateff, who wowed audiences in “39 Steps” last season, is the weird and demanding New York Director. Eben French Mastin, Patricia Hamond and Daniel Hall Kuhn are all quirky members of a rural community theater troupe. And hilarity ensues.
A-M: What is the central theme of “Dracula Bites”?
RH: A fish out of water must learn to swim in a smaller tank or he’ll end up on the grill.
A-M: As a director, what do you like about “Dracula Bites”?
RH: The two things I like most about directing “Dracula Bites” is I like blending the mix of farce and gothic horror and I really like loading up Chris Kateff’s character with all the quirks I’ve seen over the years in some very strange and enigmatic New York directors.
A-M: If someone asked you, “Why should I come out and see ‘Dracula Bites’ at Pioneer Playhouse?” what would you say?
RH: I think this summer will be challenging for our company and perhaps our loyal audience — not to see Holly bounding onto the stage with her winning smile in the glowing twilight to welcome us all to an evening of theater in the way that only she could. But the family is strong. The cast is talented. The show will go on. Our theater will go and grow. And we are dedicating this summer to her memory. Come out and see us.
IF YOU GO
Pioneer Playhouse, Stanford Road
Dinner and show: 7:30 p.m.; $28 — reservations required
Show only: 8:30 p.m.; $16
Tickets: (859) 236-2747