A musical dose much needed - Dracula leaves Karachiites spellbound

After receiving immense appreciation in Lahore, the classical musical theatrical play – Dracula – set foot in Karachi with an aim to entertain its citizens with its old-era charm. The play, put together by Lahore based Happy Owl Productions and projected as a theatrical extravaganza, took place at Arts Council Theatre Academy. With a talented team of young individuals, the theatre show was an anticipated event in the city.

The play is based on the theatrical adaptation of Bram Stoker’s classic vampire novel, Dracula – a tale of love, loss and rescue. It revolves around the life of Dracula (Daniyal Ayat), who wanders lonely around his Transylvanian castle, determined to yet again meet with his lost love, who happens to kill herself after she is informed about the death of her beloved Prince (who later shows up injured). The story then moves towards the life of a naïve young lawyer, Harker Van Helsing (Shah Fahad), who arrives at Dracula’s manor. This is when Dracula discovers the opportunity that he has longed for several centuries, for Van Helsing’s fiancé – Mina (Jahan Ara Chugtai) – is the reincarnated soul of Dracula’s departed wife. Dracula takes the lawyer as his captive, and sets out to charm his betrothed. As the destinies of Dracula, Van Helsing and Mina intertwine, they set out on a treacherous journey that only ends in tremendous violence.

As the curtain lifted to mark the start of the play, one could see the brilliant aesthetics of the team which pulled off state-of-the-art graphics on the stage. The set instantly took the audience back in time with its gothic-esque use of colours and props, and merged perfectly with the theme of the play. We’d give a 10 on 10 to the amazing craft of those involved in the set design, for it did indeed take one on a ride to the past. The use of different lights was perfectly done so as to match the various moods of the story, where a dim gold lighting marked the romance between Mina and Van Helsing, red was used to show the bloody sequences with an ample use of background score, along with live music by pianist John Freguson, who kept the audiences enthralled with his magical piano-playing skills.

The play began with the priest (Shazil Asad Khan) praying in front of a church-like setting. Apparently, it was his hairstyle that made him the perfect fit for the role. Jahan Ara Chughtai played the role of the dead princess, as well as Van Helsing’s fiancé with finesse. With her strong pitch and immaculate accent, Chughtai gave a memorable performance. Shah Fahad, who played Van Helsing did a good job too, but his expressions seemed a little over the top at places where they weren’t needed. The most exhilarating job was done by none other than the Dracula himself – Daniyal Ayat – who suited the character perfectly and left ladies in the hall swooning over his charisma. Other characters that made the play all the more interesting were those of Lucy (Natalia Rashid Malik), Creature (Hassan Raza) Thomas (Usman Bandy), James (Waqar Zulfiqar), Walsh (Ghazi Abad) and Acolyte (Zain Irfan) – all of whom amplified the magic of Dracula on stage.

Since it was a musical, Dracula had a fascinating line-up of songs, dance performances and raw vocals taking over the theatre with numbers like Hey Jude and Come What May to name a few. The most entertaining for the scribe was the soulful rendition of Elvis Presley’s Can't Help Falling in Love With You, which left the entire hall spellbound. Another find of the evening were the powerful vocals of Risham Faiz Bhutta, who is certainly a diamond in the dust, for an artiste of her calibre deserves to be lauded incessantly.

Directed by Saihaam Gulzar Khan and Mahnoor Zaidi, and produced by Maaz Khan Alvi and Ridda Ali, Dracula delivered the much needed dose of entertainment to Karachiites.