Friday, November 4, 2011


Okay, so I mentioned that I saw Ballet West's Dracula. I saw it twice. I am obsessed. And so, I need to talk about it more. This post is, therefore, devoted to Dracula whether you care to hear more or not.

So I wasn't sure if I was going to like it or not before I saw the actual show. I learned about it back in February when I went to see Sleeping Beauty. I nearly peed my pants, because a) Dracula is one of my favorite novels ever ever ever, and b) after doing ballet for like 20 years myself, I really love ballet. Put those two together and it was one of the best things that ever happened to my life.

Then I read this synopsis on the Ballet West website:
Act I: The Crypt of Dracula’s Castle
In the evening, Count Dracula and his wives awaken in their coffins in the crypt of his castle. In order to satisfy the lust of the Count, his most trusted henchman, Renfield, arrives in a coach with Flora, a lovely young girl from the village.

Act II: The Village
The innkeeper and his wife are celebrating with the villagers the eighteenth birthday of their daughter Svetlana. Frederick, a young man from the village, is in love with her and asks the innkeeper for her hand in marriage. At the height of the festivities, Count Dracula, who has been informed of Svetlana’s beauty, arrives to abduct her.

Act III: The Bedroom of Count Dracula
Flora and the other brides await the return of Count Dracula. He enters with Svetlana, who is to become his next bride. At the climax of her initiation, Frederick, accompanied by the priest and the innkeeper, storm into the Count’s bedroom in an attempt to save her.

Uh, wait, what? Pretty much the only resemblance this synopsis has to the actual Dracula story is that there is a dude named Dracula who is a vampire. At that point, I really considered if I wanted to see one of my favorite stories torn apart. But I bought tickets anyway, and it turns out that I didn't really care if it followed the story or not, because it ended up being absolutely brilliant.

To avoid talking about it for the next 18 hours, I will focus on the best points and present them here in no particular order (bc I'm indecisive like that):

-So the score is Liszt, and this is the opening piece. Yes, this is the music. Amazing. (Also, "Totentanz" means "Dance of the Dead" in German. Very appropriate indeed!)

The music starts, the stage is all foggy (with the creep-along-the-floor kind of dry ice fog (the superior fog, in my opinion)) and red and purple lights with a spotlight on some spooky looking stone stairs, which suddenly move quite swiftly to the back of the stage and Dracula is there! He had some seriously shocking appearances throughout. How on earth he got there half the time, I have no idea.

-Flying vampires? Yes please!

-Okay, Dracula's brides are by far the best part of the ballet (followed closely by Dracula himself). Their choreography was super eerie, and they did this zombie-arm thing that I am OBSESSED with. Also, they were frequently laying face-down with their arms splayed out. Seriously, one of my favorite moments was the opening of Act III when the curtain opened up to a handful of vampire brides posed on the stage, some standing, some just laying there, face down. So creepy! Dracula also does an incredible pas de trio with two of them. Here's a video of another company doing it, but I have to say that Ballet West's was much, much better.
HaleyHendersoninDraculaphotoLukeIsley63.jpg (528×480)

-I loved the coach that Renfield drove. It was always full of fog that would spill out when the coach went careening around the stage.

-At the end of Act I, there is a very graphic, very dark, very shocking scene where Dracula bites this girl Flora's neck. It was surprisingly animalistic. Dracula has her on the ground, then stradles her and yanks her head up to bite her neck while she kicks and twitches. Holy cats. I was honestly speechless when the curtain went down after that scene. Oh, and before the curtain goes down, Dracula does this amazingly uncomfortable dance on the floor and the other vampire women swoop in and start tearing the girl up to feed on her too. Then Flora shows up in Act II as a vampire and exits the stage hanging bent over backwards from the back of the coach. If I could be in that ballet, that is the part I would want.

-Burning vampires (this is especially for you, Joel)! One vampire melted into a puff of fog, and SPOILER ALERT, Dracula goes up in flames (being fireworks) inside the chandelier, then ends up dangling out of the bottom of it right before the final curtain closes. I like to think that he wasn't really dead.

-Act II was a village scene. Normally these are the most boring in the ballet, alongside wedding scenes and anywhere else there's a pas de deux. This was village scene plus pas de deux, which is kind of a recipe for boring, long-winded dances. This village scene, however, was so entertaining. It was humorous and fun and infused with a very folk dance feel, but all the ballerinas were in black pointe shoes with boot tops to make them look like boots. For anyone who's not familiar with ballet, the folk (or character, as it's called in ballet (which really isn't the same as folk dance, but rather a mix of folk and ballet)) dances are usually done in heeled character shoes. The mere fact that they were in pointe shoes was awesome.

-Oh man, what else was so good? Everything, really. The costuming and set were amazing. I'm a big fan of Dracula's cape. I also loved that I went twice and pretty much saw two completely different shows. Dracula himself was so different from cast to cast. Above all, the amazing acting, especially from Dracula, really made the ballet. Everyone was so 100% into their characters, and that passion was conveyed very, very well.
BeauPearsonDraculaandJacquelineStraughanFlorainBalletWestsDraculphotoLukeIsley7.jpg (600×480)

Okay, I need to stop now, because I'm sure so many people are super interested in my long-winded ballet talk. But really, this was one of my favorite, if not the favorite, ballets I've ever seen. I hear rumor that they're going to do it again each year for the next little bit. If that's true, I HIGHLY recommend going to see it. Even if you're not into ballet, I think this is one anyone could handle, if not enjoy.

P.S. I got all my images here and here, where you can see even more and read someone else's opinion of the ballet (SPOILER ALERT: she liked it too).

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Halloweeeeeeeeeenie Part Deux

So Halloween is over. Sad face.

Luckily it was one of the most jam-packed Halloween seasons I've ever had, so I certainly took advantage of it while it lasted.

I previously posted reviews of a couple corn mazes and a couple haunted houses. Here's my list of reviews for everything else I did (still trying to make it to Fear Factory):

1. Provo River Halloween Cruise: Cute but short

With Halloween lights strung across the river and hundreds (or maybe one hundred) jack o' lanters, this cruise is pretty much one of the cutest, most classic Halloween things I did all year. You sit on a barge and make a little round-trip cruise on a very calm part of the river. I thought I spotted a unicorn jack o' lantern, but it was really Batman (so disappointing). It's cute, they sell hot chocolate and scones and taco hot dogs (which I did not eat) to keep you warm while you take the cruise, and your boat gets attacked by a pirate in a canoe (I'm sure they had canoes) who tells some fantastic jokes. Example:

Q: What's a pirate's favorite letter?

A: You might think it's R (aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrr!), but it's really P. It looks like an R but only has one leg.


Q: Why are pirates so mean?

A: They just aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrr!

I'm easily entertained by pirate jokes, clearly. The only down side was that the cruise was pretty short and the majority of it was listening to a sales pitch for the place doing the cruises. You eventually get to hear a scary story, which is a recited poem delivered with as little inflection as possible. But it's worth seeing all the lights and jack o' lanterns, which are carved out of real pumpkins, awesomely.

Oh, and Provo is the worst place in the world and pretty much every single street is under construction or blocked by a train. That's not the Halloween cruise people's fault though.

2. Anguish Asylum: 0 stars. Negative stars, if that's possible

This is honestly the worst haunted house I have ever been to. I feel bad saying that, bc I think it's family run. But really, it was awful. Here are the reasons why:

-It's in the parking garage of a mall. I won't hold that against them, because resourceful, but there was A LOT of light leakage and and it was freezing cold.

-It was super short with very few actors. The majority of the rooms didn't have any scares.

-Their last ride (which costs $4 extra and I didn't do it) is a burial simulator with a camera inside. So everyone can watch you. Pay $4 for my friends to watch me bored in a coffin? No thanks.

-They claim they're better than Nightmare on 13th. News flash: you're not. The ticket booth at Nightmare on 13th is scarier than your entire haunted house.

-There was a maggot-faced zombie with SERIOUS anger issues who started going off about missionaries and Mormons. Tell me why a zombie in a haunted mansion-themed room has a "Dear John" letter and needs to beat up every Mormon with a bloody baseball bat, because it made no sense to me. I think the guy was honestly supposed to do something different and was just taking out his own issues on paying customers, which was totally supported by his getting genuinely angry when we didn't play along and calling a member of our group a slur that also refers to a cigarette if you're British, or a bundle of sticks if you're a 17th century peasant.

There were a couple good-ish parts, though the bad outweighed them. They were:

-A room full of blood-filled IV bags hanging from the ceiling that you have to find your way through.

-The fact that the chainsaw guy had nothing better to do, so he decided to chase a conveniently hysterical girl in our group out of the haunted house and through a large portion of the parking lot. Well done, sir.

Okay, enough with the suckfest and on to a literal suckfest:


Seriously, this was my favorite thing I went to for Halloween, and I actually went twice. I feel bad for anyone who missed it (though rumor has it that they bought the rights for 6 years and will be doing it each year for at least that long). I have no desire to ever see Thriller again as long as Dracula is around. Maybe I'll do a separate post about what made Dracula so amazing, but for now, here are the highlights:

-The vampire women who had matching powdered wigs, amazing zombie arms and were frequently laying face-down on the floor.

-Everything about Dracula, especially his cape.

-A carriage that billows fog from inside.

-Burning vampires.

-An incredibly graphic (for ballet) neck biting scene in which Dracula throws a girl on the floor, stradles her and violently bites her neck as she kicks and twitches. Then the vampire women come in and tear what's left of her to pieces. EEEEEEEEEEEE!

-When that same girl returns as a vampire. Genious.

Okay, I'll stop now, bc I could go on and on and on and on and on.

4. Haunted Village at This is the Place: My favorite haunt

It wasn't as good as last year, but the fact that was compeltely different from last year was awesome. You won't get stuck seeing the same stuff year after year with this one. Highlights include:

-A very, very scary staircase.

-Something under the bed.

-Really for real haunted buildings (I've heard EVPs from that place. Serious stuff, peeps. Serious stuff.)

I also put on my own haunted house in my basement, which people told me was better than Nightmare on 13th (hahahahaa, zing!). Not really. BUT, I did do some crawling around in a Ring wig, and my friends made very convincing psychopaths. I wish I had taken pictures or a video. Maybe I'll talk about that more later too.

And review of Fear Factory to come when I actually go!