West Australian Ballet’s brilliant production of ‘Dracula’ is back

Dracula | His Majesty’s Theatre | Until 26th September | ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ 

When the West Australian Ballet premiered their production of Dracula back in 2018 it was a huge undertaking for the company. Creating a new work from scratch is no small feat, it was  major financial commitment for the ambitious company.  The debut season was a huge success so it’s not surprising the work is being restaged so quickly, and a second viewing is just as exciting as seeing it the first time round.   

With audience numbers capped to just a few hundred people for each performance getting a ticket to the lusciously romantic and dark tale is now an even bigger challenge, but if you can get your hands on one, you’ll be in for a brilliant night of live performance.

The cast for this second staging is remarkably almost the same as the inaugural season. Matthew Lehmann returns as the young Count Dracula, while the company’s Artistic Director Aurélien Scannella once again takes to the stage as the older iteration of the character. Carina Roberts is back for the dual roles of Mina and Elizabeth, while Oscar Valdes is once again the valiant Jonathan Harker.

The only changes from the originating cast is Chihiro Nomura taking over from Mellissa McCabe in the role of Lucy Westenra, as McCabe is currently on leave awaiting the birth of her first child. While Kassidy Thompson replaces an injured Polly Hilton as Mrs Westenra, and Julio Blanes takes over the part of Arthur Holmwood, replacing Gakuro Matsui who has rejoined the Norwegian National Ballet.

The combination of choreographer Krzysztof Pastor’s movement, which carefully balances cutting edge modern ballet moves alongside a healthy dose of classical romanticism, and the engrossing score created by Wojeciech Chynowski, create a world filled with sensuality, energy and impending danger. Add to that the stunning sets and costumes created by Phil R. Daniels and Charles Cusick Smith, and lighting from Jon Buswell and the combined effect is perfection.

The sets deliver a wide variety of settings from Count Dracula’s castle, to upper class London homes, dark asylums and ancient battlefields. It would be intriguing to find out how it all transforms behind the curtain, as quick scene changes never took away from the magic of the storytelling.

Central to the success of Dracula is the double act of Lehmann and Scannella as the older and younger versions of the central character. Identical in body type and movement they seamlessly morph from one to the other, so much that my theatre companion didn’t realise they were two different performers.

The production has so many highlights, Jesse Holmes shines as Renfield, leading a comical turn in the asylum, a moment where performance, costume, choreography and score are in perfect alignment. Chihiro Nomura is captivating as Lucy, once again proving she is one of the company’s great assets. While Carina Roberts and Oscar Valdes ooze romance and youthful energy as the stories central couple.

If you didn’t get to see Dracula last time round, rush to get a ticket for this return outing. If you’ve never been to the ballet before, this is a great production to introduce you to the world of storytelling through dance, music and emotion.

With Dracula the West Australian Ballet has reached new heights, can’t wait to see their next ambitious creative endeavour.

Book tickets for Dracula from the West Australian Ballet.

Graeme Watson

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