Puts the fun in funeral

The fanged one does cabaret in Brüka’s latest—the horror spoof, Dracula: The Musical?

The Count [Tom Deulester] licks French maid Nelly Norton [Amy Grinder].

The Count [Tom Deulester] licks French maid Nelly Norton [Amy Grinder].

Rated 4.0

Brüka puts a big red nose and plastic fangs on Halloween in its latest venture.

Darkness falls, wolves howl and lunatics sing in Brüka Theater’s production of Rick Abbot’s hysterical spoof, Dracula: The Musical? This campy musical spins the legend of everyone’s favorite vampire into a hilarious cabaret act. (Not to give anything away, but the Count still loses at the end.)

Scott Beers directs a great cast in this remake of terror, blood and lust—hold the terror, extra lust. Sexual innuendo and witty lyrics inundate the dialogue and songs, while telling glances and sight gags fill any spare moments of silence. The lively cast and intimate set bring the action right to the audience, who are apparently in the sitting room of an insane asylum.

Opening with three ácapella numbers, including a cover of the Talking Head’s Psycho Killer, (performed by Rodney Hurst, Jennifer Lewis, Rachel Lewis and Tom Deulester), Dracula: The Musical? is the classic Dracula story as we know it. Mostly. Jonathan Harker has disappeared while showing a mysterious count a lovely little castle, across the swamp from the insane asylum where the action takes place.

The Seward Family Madhouse is home to Dr. Sam Seward [Hurst], his wife Sophie [Gillian Palmer], and daughter Mina [Jennifer Lewis]. The flaming doctor’s own sanity is questionable, a detail often pointed out by family, guests and even inmate Boris Renfield [Lewis Zaumeyer]. Also in attendance are failed actress, Bubu Padoop [Rachel Lewis] and French maid Nelly Norton [Amy Ginder]. They are all anxiously awaiting the arrival of Count Dracula [DeWester] to bring word of the missing Harker, but mostly so they can begin dinner.

The characters chat, dine and sing within a few feet of the front row throughout the evening. As you might expect in any musical, they sing of love and fortune, seduction, small towns in Massachusetts and eating bugs.

This small cast is extremely strong with their slapstick antics, singing abilities and comic exaggerations. They spontaneously joke across the fourth wall to, for and about the audience. Hurst, DeWester and Zaumeyer give exceptionally funny performances. Accompanied by Grant Levin on piano, the musical numbers are just as overblown and precise as the jokes.

Once the Count has arrived and the audience is clued in on Renfield’s unfortunate “condition,” our hero Dr. Van Helsing [Lloyd Steinman] arrives on the scene to drive that bat back to his lair. Alas, it is nearly too late to save the helpless Mina, a thrall to the Count. (See, I told you it was the same story). Mina’s transformation is as funny as it is radical. Jennifer Lewis’s interpretation of a new vampire will have many people thinking about letting her take a bite out of them.

The good doctor, or “Van” as Bubu likes to call him, braves trial and error to reach the Count’s castle, only to be foiled by the encroaching darkness of the second act (and the fact that they only have one set). However the battle between good and evil rages once more in the simple madhouse, as the count and doctor rekindle their old hostilities. Too bad everyone at the madhouse trusts the Count, not the doctor.

Putting the "fun" back in "funeral," this well-written, finely directed, and hilariously acted spoof certainly pulls out all the stops in the spirit of trick or treat.