Of all the spirits, goblins and ghoulish characters that populate Halloween, Dracula and his fellow vampires are arguably the most popular. Screenplays, books, and even Sesame Street celebrate the scary folk tale derived from a notoriously evil real life Romanian count, bloodthirsty Vlad the Impaler.

Now, to open its 41st season, the Colorado Ballet has made a major investment in its own costumes and scenery for Michael Pinks' Dracula. And the production values show, particularly in Act I, with atmospheric lighting effects, evocative costumes, and imaginative choreography creating a stream of consciousness somewhere between dreaming and awake, dead and undead.

Like many popular late 19th-Century epics, such as Robert Louis Stevenson's Dr. Jekyll and Mister Hyde, Bram Stoker's Dracula delineates the Victorian struggle between the dark, sensual forces of the Id, and the then contemporary English values of rationality and control. Following the opening act's subliminal doom and eroticism, Act II returns us to sensibility and cultural boundaries that, despite the refined period dances, leave us wanting until Dracula disrupts the false sense of security. The moodiness of the piece returns nearly full force in the final act when the villain is put to rest.

Colorado Ballet newcomer Zhuang Hua, as Count Dracula, is mesmerizing and arousing as he pursues Lucy and Mina in his lust for blood. Maria Mosina imbues Mina with the seductive qualities that make her irresistible to the Count, leading to his final downfall. Michelle Dolighan is the attractive and flighty Lucy, whose transformation into one of the Nosferatu (undead) is startlingly real. Andrew Thompson's mad Renfield fills the stage with dread, while Gregory Gonzales' Dr. Van Helsing is the steady anchor of sanity and groundedness.

The Colorado Ballet's production of Michael Pink's Dracula is an engaging and at times stunning rendition of this chilling favorite. It runs through October 28th at the Auditorium Theatre. 303-893-4100.


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