Devon Carney knows the Kansas City Ballet’s production of “Dracula” was a lot to bite off, but the company’s new artistic director was ready to sink his teeth into the unique story.
“It’s going to be fun,” Carney said. “Every time I’ve mentioned ‘Dracula’ in a public setting I get a lot of excitement about it. It’s a different subject matter than you usually get from mainstream ballet. It’s going to bring a really unique audience that’s really into the idea of the whole undead.”
Many ballet companies stage versions of Bram Stoker’s dark Victorian saga. It’s the story of a mysterious count and his dangerous attraction to the proper ladies of the day, and the Victorian gentlemen willing to stake their reputations — and lives — on the caped count’s ultimate demise.
This season marks the first time “Dracula” has been mounted by the Kansas City Ballet. The production will be performed at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts from Feb. 21 to March 4.
Don’t pigeonhole the charming and dangerous Transylvanian count’s story into one that’s meant only to be told around campfires on cool October nights.
“The Halloween season is typically when you see Draculas come to life,” he said of the ballet. “In this case we’re doing it around Valentine’s Day because there’s a love story in there as well. There’s a love story between Dracula and Mina, and Jonathon Harker and Lucy, but there’s a terrifying and scary part, too. Dracula is biting every fair maiden that comes along.”
The story and ballet, based on Stoker’s 1897 novel as well as the later stage plays and films, play to the uptight sensibilities of the period. But, Devon said, it’s still a romantic and sexy story. Romantic and sexy, yes, but also graphic and perhaps more appropriate for adult audiences.
“You are dealing with a subject matter and with the alluring quality of the dancers,” he cautioned. “A lot of people die, and there is blood and content that would be disturbing to a 5-year-old.”
Sound a little too serious for the season of cupids and heartshaped boxes of candy? Don’t be quick to judge. Devon said there is plenty of fun to be had at the count’s expense.
“It’s going to be fun,” he assured. “We’re doing a bloody mary brunch for one of the shows, and we’re doing a blood drive at the studio.”
Ballet, even one based on such a bloody tale, can be fun.
“That’s the only way you can do ‘Dracula,’” he said. “You gotta have fun with it. It’s quite an outrageous story. You might as well go with it and have a good time.”
I plan on it.
Burning love in Branson
Is the ballet a little too highbrow for you and your love? Maybe a show with some rock ‘n’ roll would fit the bill. From Feb. 7 to Feb. 18, thousands of fans will flock to Dick Clark’s American Bandstand Theatre in Branson for “Elvis Lives: The Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Event,” which honors Elvis Presley and his music.
Jeannie Horton, general manager of the “Legends in Concert” crew, is one of those fans.
“We’re very excited to have the national touring company of ‘Elvis Lives’ on the last of their 21-day tour across the United States,” Horton said. “They are selling out across the country. It’s extremely popular, and we will have them for a 12-day run.”
This is the first time the tour has come to Branson’s “Legends in Concert” stage.
“Dean Z, who we like to call our resident Elvis, won the 2013 Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest,” she said. “It’s a big honor for him. There are three Elvisis on the tour. They are all either winners of the grand contest or a preliminary.”
Jeannie said she thinks the tribute show is perfect for Elvis fans who want a unique and romantic Valentine’s Day experience.
“This is a fantastic way to celebrate the holiday and see the Kings performing on stage,” she said. “The neat thing about having them here during this period of time, which is also President’s Day weekend, is that so many people have that Monday off.”
I’ve seen Dean Z several times, and he is an outstanding performer. You can tell he takes his craft seriously. It can’t be easy being The King.
“Dean Z helps to keep Elvis’ memory alive,” she said. “These guys are at the top of their game. When you come and see these guys perform, they have the total package. If you didn’t see The King, with these guys you will get to see the type of magnetism he had. Elvis was bigger than life.”
Does a quiet weekend away with your sweetheart sound appealing? Mike Maloney thinks Eureka Springs may be the spot for you.
“The town is built on a Victorian theme,” Maloney said of Eureka Springs, which has more than 80 bed and breakfasts as well as historic hotels and dozens of restaurants and bars.
“You can see a lot of different types of architecture and a very different cityscape than you would see in any other town in the Midwest,” he said. “We have this eclectic vibe, and you’ve got a very robust opportunity to enjoy lots of different things without having to drive your car even a mile. Pull those things together and Eureka Springs is a really good place for romance.”
I have to agree with Mike. I try to make it down to Eureka Springs a couple of times a year and always seem to find a good time. Romance, maybe not, but a good time, always. Eureka Springs is special. Hippies like it, bikers like it and artists like it. Everybody seems to get along there.
“We have a unique component here,” he said. “The town itself has about 2,000 residents, and the ratio of artists to residents is high. We have about 450 artists who call Eureka Springs home. There are dozens and dozens of studios, and if you are art aficionados, this really is a dream come true.”
While the arts culture and rich history are important parts of the Eureka Springs lifestyle, so is the food.
“We have become a real culinary destination,” he said. “There is one or two of everything. Restaurants are a big part of what makes Eureka Springs a unique experience. You can really have a good weekend, find yourself six or seven really unique restaurants and enjoy a range of food you can’t find in other places. There is a lot of charm in the culinary side of it, but you can walk on the limestone streets going from art studio to art studio, too. If you are looking for something really unique, whether it’s canvas or sculpture or jewelry — any of those types of things — you are going to find it in Eureka Springs.”
Want to go?
Kansas City Ballet and ‘Dracula’ ticket information: Call 1-816-931-2232 or visit www.kcballet.org.
‘Elvis Lives: The Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Event’ information: Call 1-800-374-7469 or visit www.legendsinconcert/branson/.
Eureka Springs travel and lodging information: Call 1-866-947-4387 or visit www.eurekasprings.org.