By Argen Duncan: PNT senior writer
The pale, caped man spreads his outstretched hand over the young woman lying asleep in her bed.
In a trance, she sits up. Soon, he sinks his teeth into her neck and leaves, promising to make her his queen of the “undead.”
Portales High School drama students are putting on the 1930s version of “Dracula” Halloween weekend. In the play, based on Bram Stoker’s novel, Count Dracula seeks to turn the young Lucy Westenra into a vampire so she can be his queen forever.
PHS drama teacher William Strong said the play is fun.
“Some of the special effects are neat,” he continued. “The kids are doing an excellent job with the acting.”
With everything youth sees on television these days, Strong said, the play isn’t as suspenseful as it once would have been considered.
However, he said, the laugh lines are hilarious.
During Thursday’s dress rehearsal in front of PHS students, five-year acting veteran Kaitlyn Stratton served as stage manager and filled in for a sick actress in the role of Martha Westenra, Lucy’s mother.
“Dracula” is Stratton’s first play as stage manager.
“I’ve learned how to multi-task, and I’ve learned to be very patient, and I’ve learned to do a lot of construction, because I’d never done a lot of that before,” the senior said.
First-time actor Justin Mapp, a Dora High School senior, portrays Jonathan Harker, a businessman lured to Dracula’s castle and imprisoned. Mapp said his experience had been fun and he thought the play would turn out well.
“Everyone’s a little nervous, but it should be OK,” he said before the dress rehearsal.
Strong said he chose “Dracula” because one of last year’s seniors wanted to put on the play.
“They have to become empathetic with someone else,” Strong said, explaining what students can learn.
He said the actors must understand why the characters act and feel as they do.
The play is also a history lesson, Strong said. It shows vampires as the enemy, not the love interest as in “Twilight,” and the students get a glimpse of 1930s Hollywood censorship.
With a shallow budget this year, he said, drama students and supportive community members used available costumes or made them and borrowed items. For instance, they borrowed and refurbished a coffin someone had found in a field some time ago.
Strong said the students’ work has paid off with “Dracula.”
“We have a great ensemble cast,” he said. “They seem to work very well together.”