It's nearly Halloween, so we're getting a lot of scary-themed things this week. Evil Dead: The Musical is running out in Drumright, there are tons of haunted houses, and The Walking Dead finally returned to AMC. Thank the Lord, am I right?
Anyway, perhaps the best thing coming to Tulsa this Halloween is a different kind of dead doing a different kind of walking. Tulsa Ballet's production of Dracula returns to the Tulsa Performing Arts Center after a very successful run in 2009.
So if it was so successful, why did it take so long to come back? Why don't they do it every year? Well, I'm glad you asked, because Alfonso Martin, principal dancer for our world-class troupe, explained why.
"This is a ballet that all the big companies have done," he said. "It was created for the Houston Ballet, but the problem is that there's only one production -- there's only one set and one set of costumes you're allowed to use, so there's like a waiting list. So if Tulsa wanted to do it next year, we couldn't."
So missing it would be a big deal. We may have had it just a few years ago, but we won't have it again for a while, most likely.
With that in mind, Martin is relishing every minute of his star turn as the titular bloodsucker.
"Dracula is one of the greatest male roles in the dance world. Male dancers in our careers are always behind the girls," he said. "We're lifting them up and things like that, but as Dracula, you're the star. You're in front. As an actor, you're commanding the stage from beginning to end. Everything you do has a meaning -- looks, body language, you're orchestrating everything. Dracula's just the guy, you know?"
Dracula might be the guy, but Martin is the man. He's been a mainstay with Tulsa Ballet since his arrival in August 1998. Most dancers spend a few years here and a few years there, but he's only strayed from Tulsa once.
"I've been here 14 years. Dancers like to move around," he said. "We want to work with different choreographers and dance different repertories, but Tulsa Ballet has given me what I needed -- great works by great choreographers. I've made a great career here."
For Dracula, Tulsa Ballet, as per usual, gets less than a week in the performance space in the Chapman Music Hall, and moving from rehearsal space to a different arena is always a challenge, Martin said.
"We get three rehearsals in the big theater. That's where everything comes together," he said. "You have sets, you have the wigs and costumes and makeup. Then the orchestra comes on Wednesday, and the tempos have to be correct. And then the lights that have to be correct. We work on this for about four weeks, and then we have three days to get used to everything."
A challenge, to be sure, but the company's smooth handling of the transition makes for great stuff for its audience.
This is also one of the last chances Tulsans will have to see Martin dance, as he has announced his retirement, effective at the close of the 2012-2013 season. That sucks. Not blood, but it still sucks.
Tulsa Ballet's production of Dracula runs October 26-27 at 8pm and also Oct. 27-28 at 2pm and Oct. 30 at 8pm at the Tulsa Performing Art Center, 110 E. 2nd St. Tickets start at $20 and go up from there and are available through tulsaballet.org, myticketoffice.com, by phone at 918-749-6006, or in person at either Tulsa Ballet's box office at 212 E. 45th Pl. or the PAC's box office at the address above.
Any Day Now
It's not every day that you see a play about zombies. It's also not every day that you see the recently-deceased patriarch of your family having returned home and taken a seat at the kitchen table, either, but that's what the Colby family faces in Nat Cassidy's play Any Day Now, presented by American Theatre Company.
Director Robert S. Walters stumbled onto the show a couple of years ago, and was instantly hooked.
"I read a lot of plays," he said. "And what appeals to me about this show is that it's kind of the classic American family drama, but it's got an unusual twist thrown in. It's got zombies."
Yep. That's a twist.
"As it turns out, there's kind of a global phenomenon where people are reanimating," Walters said. "But they're not zombies like we're used to seeing them, like eating brains and moving fast." And this is what sets Any Day Now apart from all those other classic, zombie-related American family dramatic plays.
The story is driven by the aforementioned return of dead dad Adam Colby, played by Rick Reiman -- but this isn't about blood, gore, brain-eating, or anything else along those typical zombie-related themes.
"The play really is about ideas," Walters said. "Do they have souls? Do they feel pain? The matriarch finds the dead husband and doesn't know what to do with him. She tries to take care of him and clean him up and stuff. But what are you supposed to do with him? How would you move on? You can't have the same kind of relationship with this person that you did."
Any Day Now closes its two-weekend run October 25-27 in the John H. Williams Theater at the Tulsa PAC, 110 E. 2nd St. Tickets are $30 and are available through tulsapac.com, by phone at 918-596-7111, or in person at the PAC's 2nd Street box office. The curtain goes up at 8pm.
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