Dracula Comes to JBK: Humor, Horror, and Feminism

Vampires are arriving in Frederick this October — in the theater, that is. But there’s no need for wooden stakes and garlic, because this production of “Dracula” is sure to please those looking for thrills and chills this Halloween season.

Frederick Community College’s Theater Program is taking a bite out of the iconic “Dracula” with a feminist twist. “Dracula: A Feminist Revenge Fantasy,” written by playwright Kate Hamill, is an updated retelling of the classic Bram Stoker novel of the same name. This version of Dracula features a gender-bent cast of characters and explores the concepts of toxic masculinity and patriarchy with just the right balance of humor and horror.

Tad Janes, part of FCC’s theater program since 1996 and the program manager since 2000, will be directing this performance, set to premiere on Oct. 26-29 at FCC’s Jack B. Kussmaul Theater.

“The playwright (Kate Hamill) is well-known and popular right now. She brings old works into a modern sensibility,” he said. “The play is faithful to the original in the terms of dialogue but is infusing it with this new look and makes some more of the characters women who can then find new empowerment.”

Janes revealed that the production was, aside from himself, entirely student-run.

“This production is all students: the stage managers, actors, and set designers,” he said. “My stagecraft class is working on the execution of the setting, with the painting and the building of the set pieces. One of the students is also working on sound design.”

Lucy Cavanaugh, 19, plays Dracula, and they said is “intimidated to be playing such an iconic role. But I’m going to give it my best.” Cavanaugh is an audio production major here at FCC. They started acting in their senior year of high school, which was a production of Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night.”

The one thing that Cavanaugh enjoys the most about acting on stage is “the comfort in the escape from reality- you can find yourself in a new way that you hadn’t expected.”

After graduating, Cavanaugh plans on using their degree to focus on studio sound. They still plan on working close with local and independent theaters, as they’re “great for artistic expression and they allow for all sorts of people in the community to come out and express themselves.”

Miranda Trautman, 20, will be playing Dracula’s aide, Renfield. She cited her reason for choosing the part of Renfield as “a big challenge to navigate acting crazy but still staying true to the core of Renfield as a character.”

Trautman has been acting since the sixth grade, after she auditioned for a musical that her school was putting on, where she “immediately fell in love.” Her favorite part of acting is “the adrenaline rush that you get from it. You can get out those emotions that you wouldn’t be able to get out elsewhere while onstage.”

Trautman is majoring in theater and education at FCC, and once she graduates, she hopes to continue acting, but also wishes to someday create an educational theater company.

“I want to be able to teach people how to act outside of a school setting, and how to overcome stage fright,” she said.

What can the audience expect from “Dracula”?

“It’s going to have some humor, but also honor the genre: a spooky thriller,” Janes said. “We’re going to make sure to have a lot of both elements and use shadow and sound in a way to create that spooky vibe.”

Trautman also added: “There’s a lot of action in this show, a lot of energy. The audience will be able to feel this alongside the characters.”

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