Bitten by a Vampire
Review by Dilys Gater, Around Leek and the Staffordshire Moorlands
Whatever happened to 'happenings' - those amazing theatrical events when audiences ran wild, when performances exploded into the orchestra pit, when fabulous new stars were born amid wild scenes of ecstatic screams, laughter and tears? Happily, the world premiere of a 'fang-tastic brand new musical that gives you a light bite of blood curdling fun' went a long way to reviving those dear, dead days at the Manchester Opera House last month. Not for nothing was the show billed as 'spooktakular'!
To the sounds of favourite hits, ballads and anthems, the audience rocked the night away as the ensemble unfolded the touchingly tragic tale of young Vampi, born, alas into the family of Dr Acula and his lovely wife Countess Zanguina, but who had a dreadful desire to escape from her heritage of being a (gasp!) Vampire. Can true love save her?
This show revealed a side to Vampi's illustrious Transylvanian ancestor, the blood-thirsty Count, that we never knew existed. His descendants are highly sociable, living in Manchester, running night-clubs and fashion houses, on familiar terms with the Press, including notorious columnist Stanley Pea. Their houses and spaces come fully equipped with large numbers of highly-trained precision dancers and a trio of Supreme-like singers who accompany them as they drop into renderings of 'Come Fly with Me', 'California Girls', Down at the Club' - and jaw-dropping show-stopper 'Total Eclipse of the Heart' - at a moment's notice. Oh, and it helps, of course, that they secrete a fantastic quintet of musicians under the grand staircase - being night people, they can have incredible backing on tap at any time they feel like rocking.
This show, the brain-child of writer Jonathan Choat and brought to the stage by a large and gifted production team, is described as 'A Vampire Love Story', and indeed, it turns out to be an amazing love story between the audience and the performers. One man's vision has produced a scenario that is immaculately disciplined down to the last detail. The show has more than a nod in various directions of its sources - Dracula (the book and various interpretations of the film); The Rocky Horror Show; the Clark Kent persona in Superman; 50s style; silent film's 'vamps'; Victorian melodrama; TV's modern vampire and supernatural avatars - and particularly the Addams Family.
All the best of the past emerges in a witty, funny, musically and visually spectacular show that skates easily over whatever the real problems of or with vampires might be (there are no fangs, no blood, no sexual overtones - except in the best possible taste). There's not a move, a word or a note out of place. This is a sparkling gem of a show, and though there are lead roles its success is essentially based on the team work of all concerned, their fizzing energy, their emotional commitment, their talent. And the audience, I have to report, fell willingly beneath their spell.
Review by Debbie Tasker
Opening Night at the Opera House Manchester on the 4th May till the 19th May 2012. It has a lovely auditorium with a green and gold colour. The theatre houses 7 bars; Beecham Bar, Stalls Bar, Phantom Bar, Auditorium Bar, Circle Bar, Gallery Bar and the members only 100 Club. Plenty of parking locally round the theatre but it is quite expensive.
Set in modern day Manchester, the show tells the story of a young vampire, named Vampi (Lauren Samuels) - obviously, who longs to live a normal human life and to find love, who eventually falls for Andrew Van Helsing (Stuart Matthew Price) a university friend of her brother Rudi but being a vampire is getting in her way for romance. Then there is Stanley P the reporter who is trying to expose the Acula clan as vampires. The stand out performance of the show comes from love struck Andrew 'Van' Helsing and Vampi, who produce a truly memorable climax to the first act with Bonnie Tyler's song Total Eclipse of the Heart, complete with flying bats soaring over the front rows of the stalls.
An unforgettable show of excellent entertainment, a talented cast of performers, vocals were wonderful, the choreography and dancing was outstanding . All in all this was an excellent show to watch and would definitely love to watch again.