Everyone knows the story of Dracula, right? The tale of a rich count who lives in his castle atop the mountains in Transylvania, and whose diet consists strictly of human blood. The novel, written by Bram Stoker back in the late 1800s, revolutionized the horror game, becoming a classic in every right. However, there’s a new Dracula tale in town, one that has been capturing the attention and hearts of all the gays on social media. Welcome aboard Dracula: A Comedy of Terrors, a play that lives for just a little longer in New York City, and one you don’t want to miss before it heads back to the coffin.
Being hailed as a sexy, campy version of the classic story, Dracula: A Comedy of Terrors hopes to bring about just as many laughs as scares. Created by Gordan Greenberg and Steven Rosen, with the former also serving as director, this 90-minute off-Broadway play provides an intimate night at the New World Stages.
It brings you more incredibly close to the actors than any show I’ve seen in NYC. The small cast, consisting of Jordan Boatman, Arnie Burton, James Daly, Ellen Harvey, and Andrew Keenan-Bolger, juggle a variety of roles, which is no easy task. However, the entire cast brings the energy and the charm, in what is easily one of my most favorite shows I’ve seen recently.
[Warning: Spoilers from Dracula: A Comedy of Terrors are below!]
An expected visitor to Dracula’s castle
Dracula: A Comedy of Terrors begins, as so many versions do, with a trip to the Count’s Castle in the Carpathian Mountains. Making the journey is one Jonathan Harker (Andrew Keenan-Bolger), a timid and scared English real-estate agent who has been called to Transylvania.
Why, you ask? Well, to help Dracula (James Daly) purchase some properties in London, of course! However, this is where the tale begins to differ from the original because Dracula is no longer the older-appearing, established, creepy vampire with oiled slicked-back black hair. Sorry, Bela Lugosi, this Dracula is hot.
Like seriously hot, and boy does the play use that to its advantage. You can tell there’s a target audience those who created the play are going for, and said target audience showed up. There were screams and whistling from the audience when Daly walked out on stage, clothed in tight pants and a lace corset. While that scene might be the most egregious example, there are other moments in the show sprinkled in, like gay bread crumbs that those watching ate up.
From that first appearance of our Count, the essence of Stoker’s Dracula is present, but the play features some variation on the story. Harker is no longer with Mina, but Lucy (Jordan Boatman), his brilliant, intelligent, and brave fiancé. Lucy aches for a life beyond her status as a housewife, wishing instead to use her degree. However, her father, Dr. Westfeldt (Ellen Harvey), who runs a mental hospital out of his house, doesn’t quite agree with those aspirations.
When the mysterious Dracula shows up in London at the engagement party of Harker and Lucy, and people start disappearing/going ill, things begin to take a turn. Dracula is after Lucy, having seen her in a picture during Jonathan’s visit, and he will stop at nothing to get her.
Adding to the drama, Mina (Arnie Burton), Lucy’s sister, falls for Dracula’s antics and is bitten, causing her to become incredibly ill. Can Lucy and her father, along with Van Helsing (also played by Burton), and of course, the reluctant Jonathan, save the day before it’s too late? Or will they fall victim to Dracula’s bite? You’ll have to catch the show before it leaves if you wish to know all the secrets!
The positives and negatives of Dracula: A Comedy of Terrors
Before flying to NYC and seeing it for myself, Dracula: A Comedy of Terrors captured my attention from the first moment it popped up on my social media accounts. The algorithm selected me as one of many who would be interested in this play, and I definitely was. I know there are readers out there like, “Okay, Brian, you were interested in the eye candy it was showing you.” While that may be true, what kept me coming back to the video and showing it to others was how funny I found the show.
I’m happy to say that this isn’t one of those times that all the funny bits are only in the trailers. Dracula: A Comedy of Terrors pushes the comedy first and foremost. Across my long weekend in the Big Apple, I saw many incredible comedies, such as Spamalot and Gutenberg, and this show was right on par with the rest. There are scenes where I laughed so hard I was crying. The show is full of witty one-liners and jokes that reference the real world or the limitations of both our society and the time in which the play exists. The humor also consisted of both high and low-bar comedy, making the show very accessible.
Dracula: A Comedy of Terrors is also unbelievably horny, in perhaps the best way possible. Part of that adds to the humor because, as we all know, sex is funny. This might be a turn-off for some, as not everyone enjoys this type of humor, but those present at my show loved it. We were all eating out of the palms of the cast’s hands.
An immense amount of praise goes to the very active cast, which brought this play to life. There’s not a weak one among the five, with each playing their roles perfectly and adding to the fantastic chemistry that was on stage. Many of them play multiple roles across the show and would switch between them quickly. At times, there were quick costume changes, which were handled with ease, at least that’s how it appeared from the audience’s perspective.
Daly and Keenan-Bolger were definitely the focal points of the promotional material I saw on TikTok and the like, which makes sense as they are the driving forces of this play. On one side you have the tall, blonde haired, aroused, and formidable Count Dracula and on the other, you have the nervous but equally adorable Harker. They are two sides of the same coin. It’s interesting to see how Harker progresses, becoming a bit more like Dracula as the two’s lives become more and more intertwined.
I couldn’t imagine anyone else in either of these roles, as both are exceptional here. Everyone better be watching these two actor’s careers if you aren’t already. With them being the focal points, I was surprised that the show wasn’t a bit more “gay”, with a more extensive storyline of Dracula seeking Jonathan instead of Lucy.
However, these two are not alone in the excellence on stage. Boatman played a perfect Lucy, and I found myself drawn to her story more so throughout. She’s a woman stuck in a time when she can’t be what she’s destined to be. But she also has a supportive fiancé who loves her and wants her to be the best. That being said, he doesn’t challenge her the way Dracula does, as Dracula is more her equal in the mind. An enticing world that she dances with, but knows not to touch. Boatman shows all of these nuances throughout her performance, and it’s something to behold.
Rounding out the cast are Arnie Burton and Ellen Harvey, both of whom give some gender-swapped performances which brought down the house. I have never seen my friend laugh as hard as she did at nearly every line Mina utters. Burton was the right choice for her, having the perfect comedic timing and chops for the role. Dr. Westfeldt and Van Helsing’s interactions were also some crowd favorites, and for good reason.
Final thoughts on Dracula: A Comedy of Terrors
Dracula: A Comedy of Terrors is a strong show, with an amazing cast that transports you away from New York City to the streets of London. However, as much as I loved this show, I can also recognize that this isn’t for everyone. I’d never take my mom to see it, but I would go and see it over and over with my friends. It’s a great date night show, although I may refrain from taking a first date there unless you’re trying to send a certain message.
This show is one that I’ll remember forever, and I only wish I was able to see it again before it closes with this cast. So if you live in or visiting NYC, put Dracula: A Comedy of Terrors at the top of your list, if you’re looking for something that will make you laugh so hard, you might pop a blood vessel.
Dracula: A Comedy of Terrors is playing at the New World Stages for just a few weeks longer! So purchase tickets while you can! Let us know on social media @mycosmiccircus or in The Cosmic Circus Discord if you plan on seeing this show!