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Best written reviews for “Dracula” performed by Lake Braddock Secondary School in Burke, Virginia. Reviewed on April 29, 2023.

Cea Reksulak

Oakton High School


It was a dark and stormy night at Lake Braddock Secondary School, as the evilest of all beings was risen from the pages and brought to the stage. Dracula, adapted into a play by Steven Dietz, was based on the 1897 novel by Bram Stoker, of the same name. It follows a motley crew from London, including the insane R.M. Renfield and his handler Dr. John Seward, Renfield's coworker Jonathan Harker, his fiancé Mina Murray, and the lovely lady Lucy Westenra as they are terrorized by a mysterious man in the shadows, who seems bent upon bringing them all to madness and ruin. Joined by the cryptic Professor Abraham Van Helsing, they must uncover who has been plotting against them, before the mysterious man Renfield calls "Master" kills them all, or worse.


Lake Braddock Theatre terrified audiences with their immersive portrayal of Steven Dietz's work. From the start, Renfield, portrayed by Noelle Koss, made the show with poignant commentary and a visceral depiction of insanity and desperation, literally scaring audience members out of their seats. Alex Perry and Lake Rusch, who played Johnathan Harker and Mina Murray, infused their characters with charisma, making their characters' dedication to their cause and to each other visceral and heart-warming, in moments where the play took ghastly turns. Amelia Campbell-Reidhead joined the ranks of many show-stopping scream queens in the role of Lucy Westenra with her terrifying ear-splitting shrieks and screams. She stole hearts at her best moments and ate them at her worst. Jonathan Barnard dominated the stage as the horrible Dracula, his deep voice reverberating throughout the room, his Transylvanian accent clear and precise. The ensemble stole the show as The Transylvanians, ghoulish vampires who served Dracula's will and who terrorized all those who dared enter their domain. Their dedication to their characters, their interactions with the audience and their chilling countenances and synchrony left a lasting impression, and majorly contributed to the effectiveness of the atmosphere of the play.


This show was a technological behemoth, and the team behind the curtains brought impressive levels of detail and gore to the show. The makeup, done by Emily Brennan, was subversive and consistent, from the white sheen on the vampires to the old-man prosthetics worn by Jonathan Barnard. The blood, bruises and other special effects makeup were all visible from the audience while not being garish to the point of disbelief. The lighting, run by Katie Brusseau and Sungah Kong, added to the creepy atmosphere of the play, with red light for scenes of danger and death and blue light for suspense and fear. The pair also took on the set, which was staggering in its beautiful, two-level design and its functionality. The sound was done by Leah Dutcher, and it was very well-timed, including moments in which the sound effects were very quiet and small, such as the sizzling sound of holy objects touching demonic objects and creatures. The run crew, including Alexandra Wyant, Madison Eismeier, Kinsey Lin and Leah Rajnik, displayed incredible teamwork, with efficient transitions moving set pieces on and off stage and coordinated cues between the actors, the sound and lighting booth and those in the wings.


Lake Braddock's talented cast and crew took on a horrific tale of the ages and spun a web of terror for all to see. Their neck-biting, bloody production gave new life to the immortal, and left off with a question; "What really lurks in the dark?"

Clare Shacochis

Oakton High School


Shrieks of fright and delight rang through the auditorium of Lake Braddock Secondary School's production of Dracula.


In 1897, Bram Stoker's novel, Dracula, was published and rose to popularity, sparking many adaptations of the sinister tale. Almost 100 years after the story's original publication, Steven Dietz's stage adaptation was published.


This show tells the story of two women, their suitors, and the horrors plaguing their lives. Count Dracula's hunger for human life brings him from Transylvania to England as he gains power, leaving it up to his current victims to defeat him.


Portraying Mina Murray, Lake Rusch was determined and dynamic. Ranging from playful laughter with her friend to desperately trying to comfort her fiancé, Rusch showed a wide display of emotions throughout the show and held her own in every scene. Accompanying Rusch was Alex Perry as Jonathan Harker. Perry kept his energy up for the whole show, whether he was narrating letters to Mina, roaming the audience with a candelabra, or frantically trying to escape a nightmarish castle.


No show can be completed without a commanding antagonist, and from the moment he stepped onstage, Jonathan Barnard as Count Dracula lived up to the legendary vampire he portrayed. With a consistent, captivating accent and big, bold movements, Barnard was both alluring and alarming.


Dracula's devoted and disturbed servant R.M. Renfield was played by the electrifying Noelle Koss. Working with the challenge of being onstage for almost the entire show, Koss' energy never faded, especially when terrorizing the audience with maniacal laughter and shrieks.


Rounding out this talented cast was the eerie ensemble of Dracula's Transylvanian victims. Every movement was perfectly in sync, making up a completely cohesive unit. From hissing at the audience to surrounding and grabbing at living characters, each member of the ensemble remained in character.


One of the most impressive aspects of this show was the lighting. Led by Katie Brusseau and Sungah Kong, a select few colors were used to represent certain themes, characters, and settings during the show. This was most notably represented through Dracula's signature fuchsia, to represent his sadness, lust, and wealth. The lighting crew drew the audience's focus around the entire space and created a mysterious, menacing atmosphere.


The set designers (Katie Brusseau and Sungah Kong) constructed several settings that stayed separate and came together when needed. While the right side of the stage transformed into a mental asylum with blood splattered walls, the left side acted as three differing bedrooms. With a grand staircase in the center, leading up to a second floor, Dracula's mansion was created. Each setting varied from the next, thanks to the expertise of the set designers and crew.


The costumes crew (Angelia DeJesus) put together Victorian era costumes for both upper class characters and the undead alike. The ghostly ensemble sported all white outfits, except for the streaks of blood and dirt, to represent the purity taken from them, while several cravats were handmade and personally styled to fit the character. The use of fake blood on many of the costume pieces added to the dark atmosphere of the show.


In a frenzy of madness and malice, the chilling cast and crew of Lake Braddock Secondary School's Dracula brought life to this story of the undead.


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