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"With theatre we express reality not as we experience it, but as we believe it to be true."

« A Review of Dracula at the Staircase Cafe Theatre | Main

Lawyer gets his teeth into Vampire role

(originally published in the Hamilton Spectator, Oct. 1, 2015)

Peter Anderson is putting the bite on Dracula.

Fangs and all, this area lawyer is taking on the most famous vampire of them all.

Forget Robert Pattinson and Twilight, it was Count Dracula in Bram Stoker’s gothic horror novel that made vampires sexy.

The Count’s been featured in a play, a ballet, a musical and a dozen movies.

“I like the guy,” Anderson says. “He’s passionate and so am I. I don’t care for his choice of food but I have to admit he’s a pretty exciting guy.”

Anderson grew up in Hamilton, not Transylvania, and he discovered drama at McMaster University where he played Dr. Faustus in Christopher Marlowe’s dark drama.

“I’ve been bitten ever since,” he says. “Pardon the pun.”

Anderson doesn’t believe in vampires, but finds the story of Dracula intriguing.

“People like being frightened, especially if they know the blood is fake. You see Dracula with the long black cape, slicked-back hair and staring eyes and it’s mesmerizing. He’s also an erotic figure. There’s something in the sexual fear here that attracts women. I guess it’s about a powerful male figure taking control. As liberated as women are, they enjoy the fantasy of that.”

Anderson prepares for his role by locking himself in his room.

‘I spend hours trying to find the character I’m playing. I try to mentally get into his mood, his state of mind. I say the lines over and over.”

For Anderson, the most difficult thing is figuring out the man’s motivations.

“He just wants to be someone who conquers people. Also, there’s the movement I have to use to make him seductive. In a sense he hypnotizes his victims before clamping his fangs on their necks.”

Sitting across a table, Anderson looks too normal to be Dracula. That’s where the acting comes in. A civil litigation lawyer in Oakville, Anderson has acted for several local theatre groups. He’s never thought seriously about acting as a career.

“There’s too much uncertainty,” he says.

“What I do like about doing a show though is the adrenalin rush of the stage. Doing theatre satisfies my creative urges.”

With a soft smile and warm personality, Anderson defies the icy Dracula persona. He’s a family man who’s more interested in his kids than Dracula’s children of the night.

“I have two children, one 4 and one 2. They definitely are not coming to see the show. The only time they’ll see my fangs is when we dress up for Halloween.”

Gary Smith has written on theatre and dance for The Hamilton Spectator for more than 30 years.

Peter Anderson

What: Dracula

Where: Black Box Fire @ The Staircase, 27 Dundurn St. N

When: Oct. 14-15, 20-21-22 at 7.30 p.m. Matinees Oct. 15 and 22 at 2.30 p.m.



Original Novel: Bram Stoker, 1897

Genre: Gothic horror

First Hollywood Film: 1931, starring Bela Lugosi

Other Films: Dracula Francis Ford Coppola, 1992, Dracula Prince of Darkness, 1966

Sexiest Vampire: Robert Pattinson in Twilight

Famous Draculas: Christopher Lee, John Carradine, Jack Palance

Musical Versions: Dracula: A Chamber Musical - Richard Ouzounian and Marek Norman. Dracula - Frank Wildhorn and Don Black. Dracula: A Musical - Gareth Evans and Chris Orton

Ballet: Dracula Royal Winnipeg Ballet Jorden Morris and at least six other versions

Broadway Dracula: Frank Langella in 1977 production

Hamilton Place: Martin Landau, 1985

Reference Book: In Search of Dracula by Radu Florescu and Raymond McNally, 1972

Themes: Role of women in Victorian culture. Conventional sexuality. Folklore

Dracula’s Castle: May have been inspired by Slains’ Castle in Ireland, visited by Stoker

Protection: Garlic, the host and a cross

Killing A Vampire: A silver stake through the heart and cutting off the head