The Hollywood Fringe Festival is a significant event that showcases the best of performing arts talent in venues throughout the city.
"Nosferatu, A Symphony in Terror," playing at Studio/Stage in the heart of Hollywood is no exception to this rule.
It is beautifully choreographed and adapted from the original German 1922 expressionist horror film of the same name. As the Crown City Theater promotes this entry into the festival this year, we appreciate their artistry and dedication to making this production available for audiences to experience. This haunting show definitely highlights the festival’s theme of celebrating freedom of expression with an artistic vision unhindered by any governing body. It is well worth seeing especially for fans of this genre.
Although this subject matter is overdone of late, this production is not like the rest. It is a true symphony of music, dance and visuals that keep the audience glued to the stage. The story opens in a typical rural village from the middle 1800s in Wisburg, Germany. It is beauty at its best; purity in life, innocence in the young and unwavering beliefs in the goodness of others. Sitting in a darkened theater that holds possibly only 40 or more chairs, the audience is propelled instantly into this innocent village of shoemakers, bakers and laughing children. The stage is designed with a clear message. It is large with black curtains all around and simple furniture reminiscent of that time. One of the major focal points is the large screen in the background projecting scenes from that period gathered from long ago movies and cameras. It is cobblestone streets, working people in the countryside, horse-drawn carts and women carrying their goods. Occasionally the dialogue is projected onto the screen for us to follow along as a strong voice is heard overhead recounting this tale. We never hear the actors speak. We see them respond, we see them dance and smile, but they never voice anything. Each projection is perfectly timed to match the action on stage and tell this glorious story.
All of this tranquility and gentleness is rudely disrupted when our main character, Thomas Hutter, answers the door to a stranger. Recently married to the very pretty and delicate Ellen, all Tom wants to do is provide for his bride and future family. This sudden and unexpected offer will allow Tom an opportunity to see the forbidden lands outside Wisburg and gain riches for his Ellen. After a long and surprising journey filled with different lands and cultures, he reaches his unsavory destination. Meeting the hideous Count Orlok, Tom feels uncertain but continues with his business. He can only dream of reuniting with Ellen and the simplicity of Wisburg. How naive of Tom not to see the unmasked face of death and destruction standing next to him. Count Orlok has only one thing on his mind besides the evening ritual of bloodletting, it is to relocate to the innocent town of Wisburg and feed his hunger for new souls. Tom unwittingly has become a part of this unseemly plot to destroy the town, the people, and his one and only Ellen.
At first, I didn’t know what to expect and I am glad I came without preconceived notions of this production. It is truly a surprising adaptation of the overdone vampire story.
The dance and music are hypnotic as the projections elevate us to believe we are there in sweet Wisburg, and in the evil castle with the devil himself. It is an unusual way to present this story, but highly effective and definitely deserves a spot in the fringe festival.
This show’s writer and director is exceedingly creative. William A. Reilly is matched perfectly with the strong choreographer Lisaun Whittingham. It takes an unusual position from the original film writer F. W. Murnau, but still keeps to the main theme of the story. Of course, the acting is very good, especially the main characters playing Tom and Ellen, Michael J. Marchak and Alina Bolshakova respectively. Michael reminds me of a younger, fairer Robert Pattison, who ironically does play a vampire in those teen movies. Alina has an obvious ballet and dance background as she floats across the stage effortlessly with such grace. And the perfectly cast Michelle Holmes playing the sinister Count Orlok does a great job. Yes, it is a woman. The strong and welcoming narrator, Saige Spinney sets the perfect tone for what happens at each step. In fact, this whole cast and crew do a fine job. It must have taken countless hours to search for the right film clip and match it to each scene. Overall, this is a true theater experience that should be explored by fans of the genre, creative theater, or anyone interested in expanding their artistic vision.
Crown City Theatre Company
“Nosferatu, A Symphony in Terror”
Preview: Saturday, June 3, 2017 at 1:00 PM.
Opening: Saturday, June 10, 2017 at: 8:00 PM.
Performance: Wednesday, June 14, 2017, at:10:00 PM.
Performance: Thursday, June 22, 2017 at: 8:00 PM.
Closing: Saturday, June 24, 2017 at: 3:30 PM.
All tickets are $12.00 and can be purchased at:
www.HFF17.com/4556 or by calling: 818-605-5685.
“Studio/Stage” at: 520 N. Western Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90004