Famous last words…”I hope this works….”
It’s fall and that means everyone is bringing out their Halloween shows. The Off Broadway Theater’s offering this year is a new show, Dracula vs. The Mummy.
Anyone who has ever attended an OBT show knows the routine. A member of the cast (Clarence Strohn who plays Ron Wood, the museum curator) take the stage to warm up the audience, give birthday shout outs and set up the interactive sound cues for the audience. As Clarence finished his welcome he said, “I hope this works….” And in the OBT’s show, it does. Imagine if you can the Ben Stiller in the Night at the Museum series crossed with the old “Creature Feature” television series, add some slapstick, shake it up a little and you have Dracula vs. The Mummy.
Dracula vs. The Mummy is about a curse, a museum, it’s tour guide Mina (Kathryn Reynolds), the goofy curator, Dracula (Eric R. Jensen) and a Mummy (Jake Ulasich.) First the curse: an Egyptian princess fell in love with the guard assigned to protect her. The guard was killed for his transgression and as he died, she placed the mystic Medallion of Immortality (which she stole from her father the king) on her dying lover. It is said that the medallion is cursed. If anyone removes it from The Mummy, that person will be hunted down and killed by the Mummy.
Fast forward a couple of thousand years to today where Mina (who has a “thing” for mummies) is showing off the museum’s Ancient Egypt exhibit to a strange visitor (Dracula) with three wives. The lengths to which Dracula goes to get the medallion, without actually taking it himself and thus activating the curse is this show’s plotline.
In his director’s notes, Eric R. Jensen said: “Honestly, I have not felt so optimistic about a show in a long time…it is really quite different from other parodies I have written in the past.” Yes it is and it showed in many ways. The writing was fresh, with different depths of humor than we have seen in past OBT shows. As a result, this is probably one of the best acted shows we’ve have seen at OBT. Eric R. Jensen is a fabulously funny Dracula, while Mina, the Mummy and the curator were “people” you could relate to, not just a delivery mechanism for a joke. The ensemble (Chase Dickerson, Shakai Reyna, Amelia Joan Bowles, Rickey Eric Larson, Aaron Bellis and Jason Unruh) played multiple characters with such aplomb that I was actually looking forward to seeing which historical characters would turn up next. The Abe-Miley rap that ended the first act was so side-splittingly funny that I could barely breathe when it was done.
The stage design (Eric R. Jensen, Clint Lehmberg and Rob Reins) was extremely well done, especially the Upper Chamber of the Pyramid for Act 2. The statues that flanked the Mummy’s throne were exquisite. And look for the inventive way they use a black light. Genius. Costumes (Janice Jensen, Eric R. Jensen and Nola Camaliche) were fun and perfect for the tale. Sunny Bringhurst’s choreography, especially for the “Museum Battle” and “Walk Like An Egyptian” was fantastic.
There were a couple of opening night technical issues, not counting the lights flickering due to a nearby lightning strike. Mina’s mic did not work through most of the show. Ms.Reynolds made a valiant effort to project, but we still could barely hear her in the 4th row. I’m sure those sitting further back had an even harder time hearing her. And the music was often too loud and over-powering. I left the theater with my ears ringing ever so slightly from it.
All in all, my husband and I loved this show. We try to get to at least two shows a year at OBT because we do enjoy their work. After the rather difficult last two weeks we have had, we needed a laugh and Dracula vs. The Mummy delivered and then some.
The Off Broadway Theater 272 South Main Street
Salt Lake City, Utah 84110
Dracula Vs. The Mummy
Sept 26 – Nov 1 Monday, Friday and Saturday 7:30 PM
$8.00 – $16.00
Facebook page: The Off Broadway Theater & Laughing Stock Improv