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Geyer in Scottdale to present 'Dracula: The Musical'

| Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2012, 12:26 a.m.
The cast of “Dracula: The Musical” rehearses a scene from the show, which opens Thursday at the Geyer Performing Arts Center and runs through Sunday. Lying down is Alyssa Johnson, 17, of Scottdale as Mina. Standing (from left) are Paul Appleby of Uniontown as Boris, Lisa Earnesty of Connellsville as Sophie, Luana Catlett of Smithfield as Nelly, Brian Howard of Ruffsdale as Van Helsing and Ben Pimental of Mt. Pleasant as Count Dracula. Linda Harkcom | For the Daily Courier OCT 2012

Geyer Performing Arts Center in Scottdale will be a place for laughs and screams this weekend when “Dracula: The Musical” takes to the stage.

John Cunnard decided to take on the show as director earlier this year after Ron Bronson, board president of Actors and Artists of Fayette County, suggested the position.

“AAFC has done the show two other times at the theater, but it has been many years since the last time it was done,” Cunnard said, adding that he is impressed with the show and its history.

“At its New York City premiere, patrons stood in line in a blizzard for tickets. At its Australian premiere, every seat for every performance was sold,” he said.

The show has just one set and takes place in the Dr. Sam Seward family madhouse in the 1800s.

A newcomer to the neighborhood, Count Dracula is moving in next door to the Seward family who believes he is royalty. The Sewards don't know Dracula is a vampire until Dr. Van Helsing comes to warn them.

“It takes some convincing from him for the family to finally realize that,” Cunnard said. “The show only uses piano music, and it's very campy funny.”

He said “Dracula: The Musical' is “very funny” and appropriate for all ages. He added the show is a good start for the Halloween season.

“It is a funny show that has been made even more so because the cast has ad-libbed even more than the script calls for,” Cunnard said.

Ben Pimental of Mt. Pleasant will take on the role of Dracula. Martha Oliver is the stage director for the show. She and Cunnard have worked together before, co-directing “Hotel Frankenstein,” which won best show at the Tottie Awards two years ago.

Cunnard said one of the challenges of putting the show together was filling a cast in which most of the actors either are going back to school or college or have work commitments.

“We weren't allowed to rehearse until eight weeks before the show, and we didn't even get the music until six weeks before the show — so it was a lot of cramming and learning the music fast,” he said, a funny and not too scary way to start the Halloween season.

The show will be presented at 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday; and 2:30 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $12 each. A dinner-theater option is available for $25 per person.

The Stepping Stone bookstore, 205 Pittsburgh St., will hold a Dracula Look-a-Like Contest for children on Wednesday. Judging will be at 6:15 p.m. for ages 5 and younger; 6:30 p.m. for ages 6-10; and 6:45 p.m. for ages 11-15. Mayor Chuck King will be the judge. The bookstore is owned by Linda Kenney,

Cunnard said Tottie Kiefer introduced him to the theater in 1988, and he has been involved in many shows since then.

“My grandfather, Wade Weaver, performed on the stage there in the early 1900s and I know it makes my mother proud to see me carry on his desire of performing live theater,” Cunnard said.

Cunnard said he's always surprised to hear from people who live in the area that they never attended a show at Geyer.

“It's my hope to get people to come see ‘Dracula: The Musical' and open their eyes to the wonderful world of live theater,” he said.

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