Dracula the Ultimate, Illustrated
Edition of the World Famous Vampire Play
edited by David J. Skal. St.
Martin's Press. Paperback. 153 pages. £10.95
what Bram Stoker once described as a "shilling shocker", DRACULA
has since become a modern day icon, whether through reprints of the famous novel or as the
character produced by the film industry. However, most of our perceptions of the
arch-vampire originated with the numerous stage adaptations. Very few, if any, portrayed
the Count as described in Stoker's novel, that of a cadaverous old man with white hair and
a drooping mustache until Francis Ford Coppala's glossy film version of 1992.
David Skal has managed to unearth
information regarding the stageplay of "Dracula" as performed
by Hamilton Deane's theatre company that toured Britain during 1924. The role of the Count
went to a young actor named Raymond Huntley who would later become a well employed
character actor enjoying a long and fruitful career in the British film industry. By 1929
Huntley had already portrayed Count Dracula more than 2000 times. When Huntley refused an
offer to reprise his role on Broadway, this act afforded Lugosi his big break, but even he
never portrayed the Count as often as Huntley. After 33 weeks in 1927, the Broadway
vampire play rewritten by dramatist John L. Balderston established Lugosi as a matinee
idol of the legitimate theatre.
The Balderston adaptation is reprinted in
its entirety in this book along with a series of tantilising stills of the play and of
others who once donned the cape. Included are remarkable sketched caricatures of the
performers from the theatrical press, pictures of those who had a hand in creating the
successful production, plus reviews from the trade papers and a slew of additional
information that Skal has managed to dig up since writing his seminal work on Count
Dracula, "Hollywood Gothic".
Like all of Skal's output, this makes for
an invaluable source of reference and is a fine companion to the aforementioned "Hollywood
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