Hallo, leute (again)! It’s a second post for today! I just wanted to make this really quick post about DRACULA, the musical by Frank Wildhorn! I just watched the professionally filmed version of the Graz, Austian production of DRACULA and thought I’d review it. Please do note that because the version I watched was the Austrian, German-language one, the review will be of that production, not the English versions that there have been! So, let’s get into it, shall we?
*Just a really quick disclaimer: if you are a big fan of the musical and want only to hear good things about what people think of the musical, this post is (probably) not for you as I have some opinions that may upset you. But, that being said, I leave the decision to you.
I’ve known about this musical for maybe about a year and a half now. One of the songs, “Please Don’t Make Me Love You” (yep, the English version) has been on-and-off my playlists for about that amount of time as well. But I never really got around to listening to all of the songs nor actually watching the filmed version. I don’t know why, really. I just wasn’t in the mood for it, I guess! I did try several times to really commit to listen to the English version but I just never could get past more than three songs (for various reasons). But yesterday, I couldn’t sleep and so I decided to go ahead and watch it. And well… I thought I’d share my thoughts on it with y’all!
So, first things first, DRACULA is, by no means, a “perfect musical” and I don’t think that anyone would call it such. But it can be entertaining if you’re in the right mood for it. There have been many, many adaptations of Dracula by Bram Stoker, none of which have been entirely faithful to the story told in the novel. Perhaps the most well-received and generally most accurate adaptation of the novel would be the 1992 movie starring Gary Oldman. That being said, though, the adaptation is still pretty far from the book. But, at any rate, where I’m going with this is this: the musical, DRACULA, follows a very similar storyline to the 1992 movie. I might even go so far as to say that the musical is an adaptation of said movie rather than the Bram Stoker novel. So… if you liked the 1992 movie, you may like this musical.
What did I think of it?
Well… what I usually think of Frank Wildhorn musicals. Great music, great lyrics. The book/story could use a little bit more development and tinkering (though I’ve heard that the Austrian production was far better than the English / Broadway production). The sets and costumes were kind of “meh”. The characters were, for the most part, pretty decent but some of them were pretty “meh” as well (more on that later). So… if I were to give this musical a grade, I’d probably give it a C+ or maybe a B- if I’m feeling generous.
I have yet to come across a musical by Frank Wildhorn that had music that I just didn’t like. DRACULA keeps that remaining true and I think that’s great! In general, I’d definitely say that Frank Wildhorn has composed some of my favorite songs… ever. And he could very well be one of my favorite musical composers. However, when it comes to storyline, I just really felt a faltering step—a missing link in the chain. I said before that the storyline is pretty similar to the 1992 movie. I remember loving—or at least really liking—the 1992 movie when I saw it years ago. And, I could be wrong, but as I recall (spoiler alert), the 1992 movie was not nearly as (dare I say annoying?) in the way Mina felt about Dracula. In the musical version, Mina has this internal conflict. At first, she’s able to repel Dracula and reject him, but then she suddenly grows weak and just can’t without any real explanation being given. And well… to me, that just doesn’t make sense. But I don’t know. In a lot of ways, I found this kind of annoying.
Which leads me to my next point about the characters. The characters were good. I’d give the musical a B in the character department. They were good enough for me to enjoy them while the musical lasted but not enough to really consider them favorites. Like I said about Mina before, a lot of the times, her character developments just didn’t make sense to me and at times her indecisiveness just really annoyed me. Which probably goes back to my love-hate relationship with love triangles. Love triangles can be great when done right (ex. LES MIZ, WICKED, PHANTOM), but they can also be an utter mess and just make my head hurt. The love triangle in this musical is kinda that way for me but to a lesser degree. It’s not enough to make me want to bash my head into a wall.
I also mentioned the general lacking in the department of costumes and set design. While I’d say that the set was pretty okay (Grade: C), the costumes were kinda just… “meh”. And it’s not that they were bad. But they weren’t great. And they weren’t stuff I’d never seen before. All of the costumes strongly resembled other costumes I’d seen before in other musicals like MARIE ANTOINETTE: DAS MUSICAL, and TANZ DER VAMPIRE (one of the costumes looked almost exactly like Sarah’s costume in TANZ DER VAMPIRE). But they weren’t bad. They were just pretty unoriginal for the most part. And the ones that were original were just not that great. And although I said that some of the costumes resembled costumes from TANZ DER VAMPIRE (which has awesome costumes), I’d say that they were pretty low-quality in comparison. They just didn’t inspire that awe. The sets were pretty minimalistic which I kind of appreciated. And yet, at the same time, I wish that there was a more lavish set.
Now, let’s talk about one thing that I loved. The cast. In this cast, we’ve got Thomas Borchert (German musical performer, performed in TANZ DER VAMPIRE, PHANTOM, ELISABETH, LES MIZ, etc.) as Dracula, Uwe Kröger (German musical star, original der Tod (Death) in ELISABETH, etc.) as Van Helsing, and Lyn Liechty (American-born musical performer, performed in TANZ DER VAMPIRE, JEKYLL & HYDE, etc.) as Mina Harker. This is a pretty top-notch cast, if you ask me. Thomas Borchert never failed to stun me as Dracula vocally. He was awesome and really, I think that overall, his performance was pretty great! The role was seemingly made for him! Uwe Kröger was phenomenal (as always) as Van Helsing and, as a matter of fact, hearing that Uwe was in this cast provided a lot of the incentive for making me want to watch it. I’d known Lyn Liechty from TANZ DER VAMPIRE and she just continued to blow me away. She was amazing and due to her performance as Mina, I’m almost certain to have problems listening to the English version again because I can’t help but think that she blew Kate Shindle (one of my favorite singers ever) out of the water.
Overall, is this a musical that I’d recommend? Yeah, sure! But it’s one that I would recommend going into not expecting much in the story department. It’s got great music, though, so if you’re just looking for something to listen to, maybe just pull up the soundtrack on YouTube and listen to it. It’s not what I’d consider a must-watch, but it’s definitely good if you’re just looking for something to pass time. Overall, I wouldn’t say that this musical is one of my favorites nor one of my favorites from Frank Wildhorn. I’ve actually gone ahead and listened to the English version all the way through and I think that the cast is pretty phenomenal there too so if you just want to listen to it in English, definitely go for that! And, because this is a musical review, I’ll just go ahead and tell y’all that my favorite song was “Lass Mich Nicht Dich Lieben”!
Anyways, guys, that’s it for me! Tschüss!