Saturday, Oct. 24, 2009

Late Night Dracula Comedy

Radio WHT and Pleasant Friday Night Disorientation

By Russ Bickerstaff
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Attending a show that starts at 10pm is a bit unsettling for someone who attends a great deal of theatre . . . having things get started a couple of hours later than I’m used to made the entire evening feel two hours earlier than it actually was. The mild disorientation lent a lot to the generally enjoyable mood at the Alchemist Theatre as Wisconsin Hybrid Theatre had its first late night staging of its comic old-timey radio staging of Dracula.

I’d arrived a half hour or so before the show and the Alchemist Lounge was packed with people from Alchemist’s earlier staging of Dracula: The Undead. I spotted the Alchemist’s Aaron Kopec right away . . . putting on two shows in the same space in the same evening seemed a bit harrowing. Cast members from the earlier show and numerous others mixed with the cast before the show was set to open.  I’ve seen live late night comedy shows where the energy level in the room was a bit frazzled and over –extended. The energy last night was perfect. The lingering energy from cast members from the serious Dracula added to a profoundly receptive late night audience. It was the kind of atmosphere that’s ideal for late night comedy.

Char Paulbicke rushed around as the professionally nervous Mary Loomis. Randall Anderson looks ever charming as classy old-time radio actor. Jack Farwell. There’s a mixing of energies between people just getting offstage and those who are about to make it to the stage. Sara Laak Hughes approaches me and talks in character a bit . . . she’s playing Allis Chase, who is performing for the first time with Radio WHT. She asked me how I’m doing. I tell her I’m tired. She suggests coffee—or a stiff drink. The overall mood is very upbeat and energetic. It’s a very, very strange place to be tired.

I’m standing by the bar a bit dazed from the experience of being tired around so much energy when Patrick Schmitz walks out in a garish, plaid outfit with cane and hat. This was my first indicator that Schmitz was involved with the show. A really pleasant addition to the Wisconsin Hybrid Theatre, Schmitz plays an old school vaudevillian comedian who plays Dr. Von Helsing and a variety of other roles . . . the rest of Radio WHT’s usual cast is there . . . except for the conspicuous absence of the standard musician. The accordion is missed, but the script is a  brilliant bit of sketch comedy . . . an exceptional amount of fun.

Radio WHT's Dracula comedy show runs through November 8th. A review of the show appears in next week's Shepherd-Express.

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