CHAPEL HILL Before vampires sparkled (“Twilight”), ran detective agencies (“Angel,” “Moonlight”) and had two shows on the CW (“The Vampire Diaries,” “The Originals”) ...
Before they roamed Las Vegas (“The Night Stalker”), moved in next door (“Fright Night,” 1985 and 2011), or in with a werewolf and a ghost (“Being Human,” U.K. and U.S.) ...
Before a stake through the heart dusted them (“Buffy the Vampire Slayer”), shattered them (“Twilight” again) or splattered them (“True Blood,” and forget the last two seasons) ...
There was Bram Stoker’s “Dracula.”
The 1897 novel, and 1931 horror classic, made a star of Hungarian-American actor Bela Lugosi. But along the way, the bloodsucker lost his bite.
Through too many sequels, kid-friendly characters (“Sesame Street’s” The Count) and chocolate-flavored marshmallow bits (General Mills’ Count Chocula), the undead became un-scary.
Jesse McGuire wants to change that.
The UNC sophomore from Raleigh immersed herself in vampire lore this summer. The first-time director’s “Dracula,” presented by student-run theatre group Company Carolina runs through Sunday night at the Historic Playmakers Theatre on the UNC campus.
“I’ve always had a love of vampires,” McGuire said Friday. “My mother always made fun of me. When I was in middle school I was obsessed with ‘Twilight.’”
But as she read and researched, McGuire discovered Stoker’s Dracula was, well, all about sex.
Or more specifically, “the idea that woman feel attraction and lust and are not just virginal copies of each other,” she said. “They feel desire. They want to be more than a wife and a mother. They want to feel pleasure.”
The vampire unleashes the lust.
For those who don’t know the tale, “Dracula” tells the story of Dr. Van Helsing and Dr. Seward, whose daughter Mina has recently died of a mysterious illness.
Another young woman, Lucy, is now displaying the same symptoms: sudden loss of blood, sleepwalking in the cemetery, and strange puncture wounds on the neck.
Seward and Van Helsing set out to destroy the vampire before the monster kills again.
The cast features Richard Walden as Dracula, Steffie Park as Maid, Will Duncan as Harker, Paul Smith as Dr. Seward, Jenna Perry as Van Helsing, Harry Wasnak as Renfield, Dylan Hedgecock as Attendant, and Sydney Krisa as Lucy.
Walden, a senior dramatic art major from Asheville, knew the role would be a challenge. He didn’t realize two nights before showtime that his biggest challenge would be keeping his fangs on.
The plastic incisors were supposed to stick to his teeth. But each time McGuire heated up the adhesive, they fell off. After they came off the next night during a scene, they ditched them.
Walden, tall with a deep voice that stops just short of caricature, said he’s bringing a different take to the caped Transylvania count.
“Everybody thinks he’s really evil,” he explained. “But he’s also a lonely man. I don’t think Dracula thinks he is evil. He longs for company, someone to share his burden.”
“To be immortal is really a burden for him.”
Company Carolina, founded in 1994, puts on five shows a year: two plays, two musicals, and a children’s show written by a student that goes to local elementary schools.
After “Dracula,” adapted by Hamilton Dean, the company presents “The Little Shop of Horrors” by Alan Menken and Howard Ashman, directed by Bryce Edwards, from October 24-26.
The two shows are part of the company’s fall “Bloodlust” theme timed for Halloween.