Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Gorey's "Dracula"

(c) NYPL/Martha Swope
Kicking off my 31 Days of Horror blog fest is a look back at the 1977 Broadway revival of Dracula, starring Frank Langella.

I decided to highlight this theatrical production after discovering a treasure trove of images at the New York Public Library's digital collection--which highlight Edward Gorey's stunning sets and costume designs, for which he won a Tony Award.


(c) NYPL/Martha Swope
But first, a bit of history. Bram Stoker's novel Dracula was originally adapted for the London stage in 1924 by Hamilton Deane, then later revised for American audiences by John Balderston in 1927. Bela Lugosi originated the role of the infamous Count from Transylvania on the Broadway stage, before doing the same on the silver screen in 1931. Lugosi also took part in several revival tours in the 1940s, as well as in London in the 1950s.

Yet it's the 1977 version that most of us are familiar with, which was a romanticized update of the original Deane-Balderston play. Starring Frank Langella as Count Dracula, this production was a huge hit; so popular, in fact, that it was adapted as a feature film by director John Badham in 1979. When Langella left the stage production to reprise the role on film, Raul Julia replaced him on Broadway; Julia was later replaced by French-Canadian thespian Jean Leclerc, until the Broadway run ended in 1980.



(c) NYPL/Martha Swope
The sets are especially stunning, with just a hint of red placed throughout the amazing monocrome designs. This gives the actors' skin tone, costumes, and set pieces an amazing punch, and must have been something to see live on stage. I'm amazed by the attention to detail--look at those awesome pillows in the photograph above. Someone needs to reproduce these, so I can buy them!

(c) NYPL/Martha Swope
(c) NYPL/Martha Swope
(c) NYPL/Martha Swope
There was also a revival tour in 2002, celebrating the 25th anniversary of the 1977 production. This featured the sets by Gorey, and starred Jean Leclerc in the title role. Here's some more shots from photographer Martha Swope:

(c) NYPL/Martha Swope
(c) NYPL/Martha Swope
(c) NYPL/Martha Swope
The photos presented here don't do the originals justice--so make sure you check out the NYPL website, where the images can be presented full-screen, as well as enlarged in the browser. You can also purchase copies for a reasonable fee.

(c) NYPL/Martha Swope

(c) NYPL/Martha Swope

(c) NYPL/Martha Swope



31 Days of Horror (2014 edition) continues tomorrow...

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