“Nosferatu” and Neos coming to Akron Civic Theatre

Arts / Article

If you want to get the creeps, plan on going to the Akron Civic Theatre, a Knight Arts grantee, on All Saints Day. The theater is planning a double bill of a showing of the 1922 silent-era film “Nosferatu,” followed by Neos Dance Theatre, a Knight Arts grantee, performing its fabulous “Count: The Legend of Dracula.”

Both productions are take-offs of the famous Bram Stoker novel, “Dracula.” “Nosferatu,” which had the subtitle “A Symphony of Horrors” in the original German Expressionist movie, apparently borrowed liberally – and without authorization – from the classic work. Stoker’s family sued, and all copies were ordered by the court to be destroyed. It didn’t work – and film aficionados will be glad. A single copy survived – and with it a work considered a film classic.

In the movie, Dracula is called Orlok, the nefarious vampire who turns and drains the blood out of the unwitting Thomas Hutter (who is sent to Transylvania to discuss a land deal with the count), and Hutter’s wife Ellen (who suspects Orlok/Dracula and tries to save her husband but loses to the count’s mesmerizing ways).

The word Nosferatu apparently means “Bird of Death,” probably owing to the blood-sucking count flitting in and out of rooms and aboard ship as he sails for England while savaging all those in front of him. As with any upstanding Victorian novel – and movie or ballet based on it – Dracula gets his in the end, disappearing in a puff of smoke as the sunlight reaches him.

“Count: The Legend of Dracula,” scene. Photo courtesy of Neos Dance Theatre

The silent movie “Nosferatu” will deliver its high-tension emotions not only from the grim expressionistic images but from the help of the mighty Wurlitzer organ in the Akron Civic Theatre. Sarah Kaufman will play the movie music score , letting the theater, as it has said, use the organ the way it was originally intended. That has to be a special treat for viewers who have never watched a silent film or listened to an accompanying score.

Bobby Wesner, artistic director of Neos Dance Theatre and creator of “Count: The Legend of Dracula” will fashion his emotional content in a contemporary, hip way. With the collaboration of Emmy-award winning videographer and documentary director Andy Gardner and Emmy-award winning writer Michael Thomas, Wesner has conjured up a monumental multimedia event – solid, terrific dancers; dense and rich choreography; a various musical soundtrack that combines rock, pop and industrial music; video imaging that helps to ground the setting with projections of the count’s castle on one hand and close-ups of dancers to show what they are doing and how they feel about it on another; and the innovative staging that has become the hallmark of Neos Dance Theatre, including dense fog rolling across the stage.

"Count: The Legend of Dracula," scene. Photo courtesy of Neos Dance Theatre

“Count: The Legend of Dracula,” scene. Photo courtesy of Neos Dance Theatre

Wesner and company performed the work a year ago on a dark and stormy night in Akron at an unused and abandoned car dealership. The audience loved it, as it no doubt will when the company comes to the gothic glory of the Akron Civic Theatre for a full evening’s worth of classic and classy entertainment.

The 94-minute “Nosferatu” will be shown at 8 p.m. followed immediately by Neos Dance Theatre’s “Count: The Legend of Dracula” on Saturday, November 1, in the Akron Civic Theatre, 182 S. Main St., Akron; 330-253-2488; www.akroncivic.com. Tickets are $20 ($50 for VIP seating with reception afterward; $30 reserved; and $15 for students).