If teenagers are having a blast onstage, can you really critique them?
I always applaud the forward-thinking philosophy embraced by Chris Kepler's King Kekaulike High School drama program, and "Lady Dracula" is another daring choice that audiences will enjoy.
This Dracula sequel begins with two students of Malice House, Willow (Dara Rickford) and Rosalie (Noelle Barber), offering a little exposition about the private school for brilliant students. Each student must choose a personal project to study over the course of the semester.
They are soon joined by Robena (changed from Robert for the KKHS production), played by Cynthia Kealoha, who has taken an interest in the vampire bats that live in a nearby graveyard. Her case study, and new pet, is quickly named Count Chocula.
At nightfall, Robena is observed through a window by the ominous Damon (Matt Pulliam), followed by a visit from Mina Alucard (Elizabeth Marian), aka Lady Dracula. Lulled into a trance with a magic ring, Robena becomes the first victim of the play, and Count Chocula is set free to roam with the creatures of the night.
Marian delivers a confident standout performance as Alucard, reveling in every campy and sultry aspect of the role.
KKHS' "Lady Dracula," 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 3 p.m. Sunday; $8 adults, $6 students, available at Cafetorium door only, half hour before show. Play by Tim Kelly, directed by Chris Kepler, student assistant directed by Feona Rehfuss.
Tara Servis as Mrs. Sink, along with a wonderful performance by Feona Rehfuss as Claudia, play the crabby, sarcastic servants of Malice House and provide additional comic relief. Zoe Wender as Anya also exudes extreme confidence and joy in her role as the creepy, flighty and pretty much guano-crazy daughter of Mrs. Sink. The Wilsons, brother and sister professors who run the school, are Jimmy McCain as Vlad (changed from Tod for the KKHS production) and Malia Kimmel as Rene. As the first day of school approaches, they are joined by Professor Edward Stanford (Reef Randall) and Dr. Bella Finley (Rosie Kulhavy Sutherland).
With Robena now missing for two days, detectives descend upon Malice House to investigate. Kayla Bounds is particularly hysterical as Duffy, with a lisping Brooklyn accent and jovial mannerisms. Her partner, Spike (Levi English), is the perfect foil, and the two create some very funny moments reminiscent of "Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein."
When Robena is finally found in a daze with two bite marks on her neck, Count Chocula is suspected as the culprit. At a loss for treatment, Dr. Finley summons leading bat and blood expert, Dr. Van Helsing (Monica Patterson), to examine the girl. Monica Patterson as Van Helsing is very convincing as the tough-cookie vampire hunter, recklessly determined to battle royale with Alucard. I'll leave Vampira's demise under wraps (or cape) but warn you it's not your usual stake-in-the-heart ending.
There are a handful of special effects that could use some polish, and the production needs a little more suspense and a little less comedy, but "Lady Dracula" is most certainly a lot of fun.