Bram Stoker’s ‘Dracula’ brought to life by Northwest Ballet Theatre

John Bishop, artistic director of Northwest Ballet Theatre, says he’s choreographed a number of original ballets in his career and he’s constantly pushing himself to create dramatic ballets that will inspire audiences and give them something they weren’t expecting when they come to the theater.

When his company premiered his version of “Dracula” in 2013, he said he was very nervous about how it would be received.

But, he says, the applause and ovations that came from the audience encouraged him to bring the production back this year.

“Dracula” will be presented at 7:30 p.m. Friday and 4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 25 and 26, at Mount Baker Theatre.

The company started rehearsing in August, as in 2013, he says.

“This year we added two new backdrops for Dracula’s castle scene and Arthur’s ballroom scene that were painted by Karen Bakke, who also painted the graveyard scene that we used last year. Our lighting designer, Dave Wright, has helped to enhance the choreography in every scene and add some special effects.”

There is a 20-minute intermission between acts one and two.

Guest principals Josh Deininger and Shannon McCormick are both from Seattle and Bishop says they made many sacrifices to come up to Bellingham to rehearse.

At the end of the ballet, Bishop says, they dance the “Dracula and Mina” pas de deux, a 10-minute-plus piece of music by Camille Saint Saens.

“It’s very beautiful and moving and lets the audience into an intense struggle between them that will decide one fate or the other,” he says.

Company dancer Delci Syvertson dances the role of Lucy and is more than just convincing in this very complicated role, Bishop says.

She is only 15 years old but Bishop says she dances “with amazing technical control and maturity.”

Alona Christman, who mainly performs for Bellingham Repertory Dance, also returns in the role of Renfield.

“The athleticism of Alona’s dancing in the asylum scene brought the audience to the edge of their seats last year,” Bishop says.

Natasha Keeley portrays Countess Bathory and Bishop thinks her acting will remind one of Angelina Jolie’s role in the movie “Maleficent.”

“She actually comes off more sinister than Dracula’s character as she constantly attempts to help lure Lucy and Mina into Dracula’s dominion,” he says.

Angus McLane, a Bellingham actor know for numerous roles in Bellingham theater, portrays Dr. Van Helsing and Bishop says McLane always delivers a “riveting“ performance that will let the audience know that Dracula’s days are numbered.

This year Bishop admits he was “sort of pushed” into the role of Jonathan Harker when last year’s dancer couldn’t return in that role.

“My wonderful corps de ballet of vampires and wraiths dance as if they are not totally bound by Earth’s gravity.”

Is the production scary?

“It is more dramatic than scary,” Bishop says. There is no fake blood or plastic fangs.

“Last year there were kids as young as 7 who came to the performance and when asked by me in the lobby said they were not scared, but thought it was very exciting to watch,” he says.

“It has everything one would want to see in a dramatic production. The story moves quickly and seamlessly through scenes thanks to the incredible preparation of NBT’s production team.

“I hope that we can keep bringing NBT’s “Dracula” back from the grave for many Octobers to come.”