Dracula, the Musical – Episode #112 – October 22, 2020
J: Hello, I'm Jess McAnally.
A: And I am Andrew DeWolf.
B: And I'm Brianna Jones.
J: And welcome to Musicals With Cheese, a podcast where I try to get Andrew and Bree to like musical theatre. How are we doing today?
A: (attempts the Dracula laugh) Did I do the Dracula laugh thing? I don’t know.
J: And this is the Halloween episode. Cue the music. I forgot to do it until literally the cheese ratings on the last episode. So, you know what? I’m getting it out early.
A: We're getting it out right now. It's Halloween time. And we're freaking spooked out of our boots. We're scared shiteless right now.
J: We're scared Shrekless.
A: Hey, don't give away what we're talking about next week.
J: We’re taking about Shrek again?
A: Yeah, we're talking about the Scared Shrekless straight-to-DVD musical.
J: Andrew, how are you doing?
A: Well. I just had to watch Dracula in German. So – fantastic, Jess, how about you?
J: Dracula by Frank Wildhorn! Cue the music, Bree.
(There’s Always a Tomorrow plays)
J: I got a trigger warning really quick, now that we’re coming out of the music. For educational and reference purposes, we will be using the 2011 studio recording of Frank Wildhorn’s Dracula. Now, that's all fine and good, but a couple of you people might recognize the guy that plays Dracula (who you might hear a lot through this) as James Barbour, noted pedophile.
A: You know, Jess, if you just never told me I wouldn't have known that.
J: If that's triggering to you, I'm sorry. Just pretended someone else. It's a really shitty situation. There's other good people on there. Norm Lewis is on there. There's a lot of other good people on this recording, but it's the only referential cast album that we've got. So that's what we're using. And I'm sorry. All right, on to the fun. “Dracula, the Musical is a musical based on the on the original 1897 Victorian novel by Bram Stoker. The score is by Frank Wildhorn” – our favorite person. “With lyrics and book by Don Black and Christopher Hampton. The show had its regional premiere at the La Jolla Playhouse, in La Jolla, California in 2001. Playing to 115% capacity, earning the highest paid capacity for any world premiere production in the playhouse’s history”, Andrew, yes, it is. But don't worry, we're gonna get back on track. “It then premiered on Broadway in 2004, starring Tom Hewitt as the vampire Count, and Melissa Errico as the woman he loves, Mina Harker. A brief nude scene in which Dracula seduces Lucy Westenra (played by Kelli O'Hara) received much publicity, as did the show's numerous special effects. Despite that, the show ran for only 154 performances, and received mainly negative reviews. The show was heavily revised and later had engagements in Europe, where it proved to be a hit.” Just take it to Europe and we did it, guys. “Wildhorn musicals usually endured critical derision, and Dracula would prove to be no exception. Reviews were universally negative, referring to the lyrics as unoriginal, and to the music as monotonous and derivative of both Andrew Lloyd Webber and Wildhorn's previous productions.” When you're so bad you rip yourself off. “However the new, revised version, that opened in Graz, Austria, in the Summer of 2007 was very successful among critics and audiences. The version of the show licensed by Music Theatre International is based on this production. A Cast Recording was released in 2008 and was a huge hit in the sale charts.” So, it got there eventually. And just to be as fair as we can, we don't want to be intentionally giving Andrew the worst thing possible and to laugh at the bad thing. So, I showed Andrew the 2007 production that is “the good one”.
A: You know, honestly, compared to Jekyll & Hyde, this is very good. This is high quality.
J: Can we rank this among the other Wildhorns we've done? We’ve talked about Bonnie & Clyde, Wonderland, Jekyll & Hyde, and this. And these were mostly all requests by our wonderful $20 patron, Mina Moniri, and this is no different. Thank you. Mina Moniri.
A: Thank you, Mina Moniri. Okay, if I had to rate them so far, I'm pretty sure... I literally can't remember anything about Wonderland other than that I hated it. So, I'm gonna put that at the very bottom. And then a little bit above that, I'll put Jekyll & Hyde, which I can remember some stuff from, but I did also hate it. And then I'll put Dracula because this one was okay. And I think Bonnie & Clyde is the one I like the best so far.
J: Bonnie & Clyde is, like, an actually good show is the thing.
A: Yeah, I'm gonna put Bonnie & Clyde a couple tiers above Dracula. There's like an empty space between those two that maybe somewhere in the Wildhorn catalogue he's got something to fit that space. But as of as of right now, it's kind of like a “Oh, this one's pretty decent.” And then like, “Oh, these are really - this is really boring”. And then, “Oh, this is awful.”
J: Wonderland below Jekyll & Hyde?
A: I would say so. I hated that one. I really didn't like it.
J: And remember, once again, I played fair with you that time. I showed you the most recent London production while I watched the Broadway version that was, originally, like, only lasted a week.
A: I just remember being confused and not understanding like what even happened, like at all.
J: And you didn't feel that way with Dracula.
A: No. And I even watched this in a different language. So, like, you’d think if anything, I'd be really confused by this one. And I actually did not know the story to Dracula. It's not like I've seen a bunch of Dracula movies and I already know it. I've actually never seen anything Dracula-related before in my life, which is a little bit surprising. I've seen like vampire content before but not Dracula specifically.
J: Okay, now I'm very curious because I want to play this game. Andrew, tell us the plot of Dracula since you only have reference of it from this musical.
A: Okay, if I got it correctly, there is Dracula, who is also referred to as Nosferatu in this or something like that.
J: Nosferatu is, like, the vampire name.
A: Yeah, it's just for vampires. But they sing Nosferatu a lot. They don't actually sing Dracula in English ever. But he's out there. And he's appearing to women and luring them in and he finds this one particular woman that he's really into. And most of the story is him and her trying to get together and her trying to resist him. But she has a friend that, at first, gets lured in because I guess she has a weaker mind or something. I don't really know how they played that one up. But she gets turned into a vampire and you meet Van Helsing who has to kill that vampire, and then starts to hunt the actual Dracula. And at the end, the girl meets Dracula and Dracula decides “you know what, I'm not pure evil. I'm not gonna turn you into a vampire.” And then he kills himself.
J: Isn’t that the same ending as Jekyll & Hyde?
A: Kind of, not really. I mean, in Jekyll & Hyde, isn't the good version of Hyde, Jekyll? And Jekyll is the one that kills himself? In this one, the actual monster decides to do it.
J: I mean, yeah, that’s fairly correct. But I kind of love... So, I read the book and I when I was in high school (it was required reading for me). So, this is very accurate to the book. And it takes a few aspects from the Francis Ford Coppola film, which is also fucking bananas, but I love it.
A: Is that the one that's fairly accurate to the book that came out in the 90s?
J: Yes, that one's fairly accurate.
A: That's the one where he has the weird fucking hair, right?
J: Yes. Yes. The butt cheek hair.
A: Yeah. So, it's not like the very old Dracula that most people know. The Bela Lugosi?
J: Yes. Bela Lugosi’s film is not very accurate to the book. It takes the elements and it's like “oh, let’s fuck the rest.” Which is interesting in its own way. And the book isn't the be-all-end-all, but this leans in very heavily (same with the Coppola film) to the romance between Dracula and Mina.
A: Is this why Mina Moniri requested this?
J: I think she requested for the Wildhorn aspect more than there's a character with her name.
A: Well, a lead with her name.
J: Well, I like the cuckold aspect of it.
A: Okay, you’re going to have to run this one by me.
J: There’s a lot of cucking in this story. This entire story is based on people cucking each other, am I right? I mean, I think I'm right.
A: You're gonna have to really run this one by me because I did not get this aspect.
J: So, we start with Jonathan Harker - Mina's husband - going to Dracula's castle and immediately fucking all of his concubines, cuckolding his wife.
A: Well, no, he's just cheating on - because if his wife was being cucked, she would have been watching it and enjoying it.
J: I guess. But also cucking means - it means you become a cuckold when your wife cheats on you, basically.
A: That's the modern, you know, “YouTube conservative” version of the word.
J: Not exactly, but kind of. I'm going with the “YouTube conservative” way just for shits.
A: You know what, we're Ben Shapiroing it in here. (imitates Ben Shapiro) In Dracula, everyone is a cuck. I'm just saying. Hypothetically. No wet-ass p-words.
J: But no, that happened. And then Dracula comes in and is like, “Hey, imma a fuck your girlfriend.” He's like, “Don't you fuck my girlfriend.” And then the entire rest of the show is about Dracula trying to fuck Jonathan's girlfriend. That aspect is there in that relationship. Then we got Lucy and then her three suitors where you got these three men all wanting to fuck Lucy and she can only pick one. Which one did she pick? She picked like the – Seward, right? Am I wrong?
A: I think so.
J: Yeah, she picks him and then the other two guys are just around. They stick around. And they are the ones that also go to Dracula in the end.
A: Now Dracula himself, I mean, everything he does is sexual in nature. Cus even when he kills people, it's like, he's like grabbing them and like sucking on their neck. You know? It's like, that's pretty sexual. So, I mean, not only does he does he spend the entire plot trying to fuck this guy's wife, he also fucks the guy. Yes, at the beginning.
J: It's wacky. I will say that. It's a pretty weird experience to watch. This is a sexy show, but in an actual sexy way, not in a fake sexy way.
A: That's not like a fault though. Because I feel like Dracula is always supposed to be sexy, and always was supposed to be kind of sexy. So that's just accurate to the source material. That's not a fault, or a strange thing or anything like that.
J: And this one tries to characterize Dracula a lot. Like a lot of them try to just pose them as big bad that wants to fuck your wife.
A: Now, I kind of got the feeling that they did that because Phantom of the Opera was so popular, and they're like, monsters have to be sexy. And, like, she has to be into it. But is that in the book?
J: It kinda is it. Well, let's talk about the book for a moment. The book isn't a narrative novel in the same way as say like, the Phantom of the Opera is a narrative. This is basically written as a series of letters and documents written from each other. So it's like a found footage book. So it's letters from Mina to Jonathan and Jonathan's like, “and I'm gonna go climb the roof today, and I'm gonna figure out what's up with Mr. Dracula, and we're gonna find this out”. And Mina’s like, “I felt this weird feeling about Lucy, she was looking pretty weird.” And the doctor’s like “Lucy's gonna fucking die.” And, it is pretty interesting to read it from that point of view, but it's also not crippled in the fact that it's a mystery, like, Phantom of the Opera is?
A: Yeah, because I mean, everyone knows what Dracula is. It's not like, Oh, is he a vampire? I don't know.
J: So that is... it's hard to understand what people actually think in that book. Like, because you're not getting the internal monologue. You're getting letters.
A: Yeah. Which is, which I guess, leaves it a little more grounded. Because it's not - you don't you're not in their heads necessarily.
J: Which is also giving you legroom to make up whatever you want for them to say, which is what this musical does. And I think it works in its own favor.
A: Yeah. I think the only thing that made me really feel like it was Phantomized is the ending because I don't think... From the mild amount of research I was doing, that's not how the novel ends.
J: No, it is not.
A: The novel doesn't end with Dracula being like, “I actually love you and like, I can’t possibly give you this curse. So I'm going to kill myself.” Like, doesn't he just get killed by Van Helsing or one of his one of his guys?
J: Yeah. So, in the book and in the Francis Ford Coppola movie, he has to be shipped back to Transylvania in a box full of dirt. Because he's getting old again because he gets old when he's away from home and all that. So he’s getting old and ugly and he's like, “I need to be shipped in a box of dirt.” And then they just break over the box and start beating the shit out of him.
A: That's pretty funny, actually.
J: It's great. And anticlimactic as fuck. So, emotionally this this ending works a little better for me, but that is the funnier ending.
A: Oh yea. Have you seen What We Do in the Shadows?
J: Of course I have, Andrew. Who are you talking to?
A: Not the movie though, the TV show.
J: I've seen em both, yes.
A: I feel like that does such a great job capturing the gothic feel of vampires. And I kept thinking of that the whole time watching this.
J: You know what? Fair. You could just bring Jackie Daytona in this.
A: It's just, I don't know. It's hilarious. It's great.
J: I quote that fucking TV show at least once a day, like, anytime I see like some political ad. I'm like, “she speaks the bullshit.”
A: The second season is just so good. I don't know.
J: I think the first season really stood up to be greater than it had any right to be two.
A: I think it was fine. But I think it kind of tracked the same moments as the movie did a lot of times, and the movie was better than the TV show. Except for the second season. I think the second season was better.
J: I think as a whole, I like the characters of the TV show more.
A: Well, Dracula. So, we watched - I watched - I don't know what you watched - I watched the one that was entirely in German. So, it was kind of difficult for me to understand what the singing and lyrics were a lot of times because it was mostly subtitles with German words.
J: So the subtitles actually translated the German lyrics into English. But I have listened to both the Broadway Original Broadway (the bad one), as well as the recent English language 2011 version. And I think the songs are actually pretty good and have a good amount of variety to it. But let's not talk about that quite yet. Because I still want to talk about the production design. Europe puts a lot of money into their musicals because they really have faith in like the art. We talked about this a little bit when we were talking about Hunchback of Notre Dame and how the Austrian production is gigantic and beautiful. And when it came to the US, it was literally like boring, it looked terrible.
A: I will say that the very opening scene kind of caught my eye a bit with the giant moving things that they were on. That was kind of neat. It gave it a bit more of a gothic feel than they really could have if they were just on a stage and that's it. Though, once they get down to the stage level, you kind of lose that.
J: But like every - In America, we get used to black box staging, where it's like, “just imagine where they are”, whereas here is more like, “We are in a mansion. And now we are going to Dracula's lair”. And it flows together very, very, very nicely.
A: Yeah. And I think big sets are awesome. And I would like to see them be a thing on Broadway more. So, I there are a lot of shows that we watch where you look at the stage and it's just like a painted background. And that's it. And it's like, all right, you know, in your head.
J: Makes you appreciate shit like SpongeBob or Beetlejuice.
A: Yeah, it's like, sometimes you want that big set. And I feel like even shows that are more dramatic and grounded and not like these big high-concept shows could benefit with having really good set design. It's like, it's part of the show, you know?
J: I agree. But I really, really think that that added a lot to the overall quality of this. Now, let's talk briefly about the characterization of Van Helsing.
A: I wanted more of Van Helsing. I feel like I never really got a good characterization of him.
J: They try. Oh, they try. So, Van Helsing in the book isn't really anything. He's just a guy that shows up and has a general idea of what vampires are.
A: Yeah, but then like pop culture, I think, turned him into kind of like this badass vampire hunter.
J: The Hammer horror movies did that. The Christopher Lee-style...
A: Which is sick. And I mean, that's awesome.
J: And that just really wasn't what the character was in the Coppola film. He's played by Anthony Hopkins, who plays it as an insane person. Like, he literally is like, “your wife is now the devil's whore”.
A: Does he just happen to be correct or, like, he actually is correct? He just doesn't know how to conduct himself or?
J: he's correct but doesn't know how to conduct himself. Okay, but he like as he says that he's like humping a guy. He's like, “the devil’s whore, concubine to Satan.”
A: Yeah, you're really convincing about their changing hearts and minds, man.
J: Yeah, you might have thought he was like, like he had COVID and it was popped up on a bunch of steroids. Just saying some shit.
A: Yeah, just like yelling like two words and then saying vote afterwards.
J: Pro-life, vote! Devil’s whore, vote!
A: Devil’s whore, vote!
J: But here, they characterize him as a drug addict whose wife, Roseanne, was murdered by Dracula? That was not in the book and has never been in any production. Because in my opinion, that Helsing shouldn't have any relations. He should just be a crazy guy that's obsessed with vampires.
A: Yeah, like, I don't know. It's probably, as you say, it's definitely not in the book at all. But like my interpretation of Van Helsing is like this guy who is just obsessive about killing vampires and nothing else, you know? And I feel like if you're obsessed with vampires, and you know their powers and shit, you probably wouldn't want to have any women around you. Because, like, that seems like a pretty big weakness since Dracula kind of pulls them in all the time.
J: Well, I figure that Van Helsing really is asexual because, like, he would be that way because he's the only one that can survive Dracula's sexy concubine complex.
A: That's true. Because it's not just women. everybody is attracted to Dracula. Dracula is just like, sex.
J: Like, yeah, and I think that giving him that dark backstory... One, is just dumb. Because I don't think anyone needs like “I had a wife”. You don't need to have had a wife to be like “Hey, maybe Dracula shouldn't be murdering.”
A: Yeah. No.
J: And also, they named her Roseanne, which just has me thinking like Roseanne Barr, who - yeah, very lovely. Very kind, very sensitive. Roseanne Barr. She thought the bitch was white.
A: True. I didn't remember that. That was, what, four years ago now?
J: 1000 years ago. It was 200,000 years ago.
A: Good reference, Jess. Everyone will understand that one.
J: Look it up, kids. What, should I have made a Home on the Range reference? What do you want?
A: (sings Home on the Range)
J: That she was the cow on Home on the Range? What do you want from me, Andrew? I want to squeeze my Roseanne Barr joke in here because they had to pick the name Roseanne.
A: (yodels Home on the Range)
J: No, no, we can't talk about Home on the Range. The director follows me on Twitter.
A: Not yet. When it's time.
J: We’ll do it behind the paywall so that he –
A: No, no, no. We're getting the director on and he's gonna talk shit with us.
J: All right, yeah. I think it's time for a mid-show, kids.
A: I mean, do we have anything else to say? I don't really think I have anything else to say.
J: Wait, wait, wait, wait, before we do a mid-show, we’ve got to go to our favorite segment of - it's the greatest, it's the best, it's Breesviews! Write a theme song so we can play it there.
A: I'm trying to find time. I'm sorry.
J: Goddammit, Andrew. I thought you liked this show. I thought you dedicated to this.
A: Oh my god
B: Right. Today on Breesviews, the segment you love to forget.
J: I've not forgotten.
A: What did the people's critics tell us? What did the people's critics tell us about this?
J: Yeah, I'm sure that they're gonna have a lot of nice things to say because we know New York critics love Frank Wildhorn.
A: The New York critics, they speak for the people. They speak for the common man. They know what we like.
B: Do they? Okay. John Simon of New York Magazine says “But that music! It is like a long, uniform sausage made of sawdust, cut into uneven slices (rhythm) with singing sometimes yelled, sometimes whispered (variety). It is not so much composed as ground out, enough to give monotony a bad name and make one yearn for the melody of an interrupting cell phone. Des McAnuff’s direction is busy and bizarre, and the acting does what it can to avoid being utterly ridiculous. In this, Melissa Errico and Kelli O’Hara come off best, and Stephen McKinley Henderson, grotesquely miscast as Van Helsing, worst. To put it lyrically, Wildhorn has had his Pimpies and Jekkies / Now let him have also his Drackies or Dreckies.”
J: Wow, John Simon, my God.
A: What does that even mean? I'm trying to figure out what he meant by some of that.
J: I feel like he was just like -
A: Pimpies and Jekkies? Drackies or Dreckies?
J: He did a musical called The Scarlet Pimpernel and then Jekyll & Hyde. That's what he's calling their stupid teenybopper fans.
B: Matthew Murray, of Talking Theatre says “As frequently happens in Wildhorn-composed shows, the songs here have but token connection to the action. At least, that is, when they're intelligible: The sound design (by Acme Sound Partners) obscures at least a third of the lyrics, and what can be understood is often undistinguished musically and lyrically. Few true theatre scores can profit from a six-piece band with three synthesizers; here such a band seems sadly at home.” Ben Brantley...
J: My boy, the piece of shit himself. May he rest in peace.
A: Is he dead?
J: He stopped being in the New York Times, so we don’t have to deal with him anymore.
B: Ben Brantley of the New York Times says, “And here it is, looming like a giant stuffed bat on a stick, the easiest target on Broadway. ''Dracula, the Musical,'' which sets the familiar tale of old snaggletooth to the familiar music of Frank Wildhorn, creaked open last night at the Belasco Theater with all the animation, suspense and sex appeal of a Victorian waxworks in a seaside amusement park.” That sounds fun to me.
J: Yeah, I’d go to that. I wanna fuck those waxworks.
B: I want to go to a seaside amusement park.
A: Hell yeah.
J: And fuck the wax figures.
B: Expectations were exceedingly low for this latest offering from the unstoppable Mr. Wildhorn -- the composer of the expensively dressed clunkers ''Jekyll and Hyde,'' ''The Scarlet Pimpernel'' and ''The Civil War''.
J: That's one I know nothing about but I am so curious. The person I want tackling the Civil War is fucking Frank Wildhorn. Right?
A: He knows what's up.
B: “-- and expectations have not been disappointed. So go ahead. Take your shots. Say something, if you must, about toothlessness or bloodlessness or the kindness of hammering stakes into the hearts of undead shows. Think of every appropriate variation you can involving the verbs to bite and to suck.”
J: Ben Brantley sucks.
A: And bites.
J: Do we agree with Ben Brantley?
A: Uh, I don't know. I don't think so. I don't know what version he watched though.
J: He watched the Broadway version. The “bad one”.
A: Yeah, so I mean, maybe. He's not always wrong. Sometimes the show just sucks.
J: I don't think this one sucks, though.
A: I think that this one - you can even see in the review. He doesn't actually say anything about the show. He just says like, “Oh, well, Frank Wildhorn’s other shows suck. So this one does too.
J: Exactly. What bothers me about New York Times reviews - They just kind of, like, they don't have a point often.
A: Yeah, it's like, what was bad about it? Just that Frank Wildhorn made it? That doesn't make it bad, necessarily.
J: They have too much flowery language for you to understand what the fuck they want to say.
A: I think that's a lot of these reviews. I mean, this first review at least talks about the actors that are in it and saying that they're miscast and things like that.
J: Actual points to make.
A: All right. Let's take a mid-show and then we'll talk about whatever there is to say about the music.
J: Alright, let's go to a mid-show.
J: So, I find it very weird that really the first song we have is a duet between Mina and Jonathan.
(Whitby Bay plays)
A: Look, they're the main characters.
J: No, they're not. Shut up, shut your hole. Now that isn’t true. You got a little bit of a prologue and then Dracula’s like “I'm an old man living here in this castle.” And then the first actual song we have is Mina and Jonathan being like, “remember when we met over Whitby Bay?”, but they're like in different locations singing about it. Like they're not talking to each other.
A: They're writing each other letters like in the book
J: I don't like it. I don't like it, Andrew.
A: Oh, come on. You read the book even said it was a cool thing that they did in the book.
J: It is. They also do that in the Ford Coppola movie and I don't like it there. They literally put like the text on the screen as they write letters to each other. It’s garbage. And Keanu Reeves plays Jonathan, it's really bad.
A: Wow, that sounds phenomenal.
J: He tried to do a British accent and everything.
A: Keanu Reeves is America's hero.
J: Not in the 90s he wasn't. But what do you think of that Whitby Bay song? And do you think it's necessary? And if so, should it be in that section?
A: I'm not really sure where else you would put it. Doesn't Jonathan die pretty early on here?
J: No, he doesn't die. He just gets like wounded and then sent home.
A: Oh, oh, no, you're right. I don't know what I'm thinking.
J: Yeah, Andrew, stop smoking the crack.
A: Smoke the crack.
J: Smoke the crack rock, baby I was born this way.
A: Yeah, I don't know. These two are such a lame couple like as it is because you never even really see them do much. You're more looking for the Mina and Dracula couple.
J: Yeah, we want to get to the fireworks factory and it takes 17 minutes for Dracula to really step in and stop being old man Drac. And a song I actually really like - Fresh Blood, where Dracula comes in and finds all his concubines with Jonathan Harker. He's like “bitches, the fuck?”
A: “He was mine.”
J: And they're like, he brings them a baby and they just tear it apart? It’s hilarious. Like, I wish that was the second song, like Jonathan's like “I'm going to this house. Oh my god, concubines?” And then they throw the baby and tear it apart.
A: I like when Dracula keeps getting younger after each one of the people he eats.
J: I love that too.
A: Yeah. And first he eats he eats Jonathan.
J: Yeah, he sucks Jonathan's blood and he's like, “alright, just enough. Not too much. I need to send him back.”
A: I'm surprised he doesn't just suck him dry. I guess it’s -
J: I think he has a thing for Mina all already at this point or at least -
A: So he’s like “if I kill this guy, there's no way she'll come to me.”
J: Right. She won't forgive me if I kill her husband. So he's like “alright, I'm young enough to be fuckable. Now I'm gonna go after this Mina girl. But the song Fresh Blood where he's like “fresh blood to revive me”
(Fresh Blood plays)
J: What'd you think of that, Andrew?
A: Actually, I think this was the first song I kind of liked. A lot of these songs feel so lame and I think that's kind of a Wildhorn special – is, like, songs that really just do not make you interested in anything that's happening at all.
J: I think this comes fairly close cus it's like, he just fed a baby to a bunch of women
A: Well, yeah, and you kinda get into it that way and it's like “oo is Draco gonna kill somebody? Oo, I gotta watch.”
J: I agree. But it's the closest thing to like Alive. Let's frame it like this - Jekyll & Hyde, you get to a song like this - as intense as this - it takes to the end of Act One.
A: Yeah. And Jekyll & Hyde is a snooze all through act one, oh my god.
J: Say what you say about this. This is not a snooze fest.
A: At least not in the same way. Okay, then we get to - what's the next actually good song?
J: I want to talk briefly about How Do You Choose, Lucy’s song.
A: Yeah, where she’s trying to figure out who she wants to marry.
(How Do You Choose plays)
J: Yes, this song is a pastiche, which I've never really heard Wildhorn do, like, a classical music pastiche, which is a little weird to hear. Still feels very poppy in its way.
A: But, well, I mean, Weber did it and Frank Wildhorn wants to be Weber, so –
J: He really does. And Weber is not even that good.
A: Yeah, so like I can kind of understand why he would do it.
J: I don't think it sounds terrible though. I think for this song, it works really well. It shows Lucy as a character very well. And it's funny song, like Wildhorn doing humor kind of works. Who woulda thunk?
A: Yeah, no. And this is one of the songs that aren't isn't like a complete sedative, you know? I don't know. I had a lot of trouble really getting into the music in this. I really didn't -
J: I mean, it's Frank Wildhorn. I'm trying my best here, Andrew.
A: You know, yeah, but it's like - it's Dracula, and gothic vampires. And the best you can do is the same thing that I've heard 100 times from your other shows? Like, come on.
J: Oh, just you wait, Andrew, just you wait til we talk about that.
A: And that's like, honestly, when we talk about Wildhorn, the reason Bonnie & Clyde was so okay and watchable is the music in that doesn't sound like all of his other shows.
J: Well, that was a challenge brought to him by the producers where they're like, “you cannot write a single ballad that you're trying to also sell to a fucking pop star. You have to write songs that are about these situations and - ”
A: Okay, fine. But it's like, you got this gothic thing - give me some, you know, I don't know, lightning crack or thunder crack and (sings a lightningy thing here). Like, I don't know, give me something interesting to cling to here.
J: Let's talk a little bit about Loving You Keeps Me Alive, which is Dracula's big music-of-the-night number, where he's like “If loving you keeps me alive, then how can leaving me be right?” You know, that nagging man bullshit.
(Loving You Keeps Me Alive plays)
A: You know - it's nice to get Dracula to give us some motivation here.
J: It is nice. And you kind of get why he's into it. I also love the actor Thomas Borchert. He has a great voice for it. Especially when he's –
J: He's great when he's not singing. He has a very nice singing voice, but when he's actually talking to people, he sounds terrifying. Especially when he’s like, “Renfield, you have disappointed me.” It is incredible.
A: I don't know. I think –
J: And this song’s become a standard, I wanted to say, in male baritone singers. Like, almost every one of them has this song on their album.
A: Gotcha. Gotcha. I kind of like Nosferatu.
J: Let's talk about that, now. I put a pin in that earlier. We're gonna pull that pin out and put it right here.
A: Is this a bad song? Do you hate this one? I kind of like this one to be honest.
J: I don't mind the song. The song is fine, but it was also fine when I heard it the first time in Jekyll & Hyde.
A: Really? I didn't catch that. What song is this in Jekyll & Hyde?
J: So, right here, we're gonna talk about a song from Jekyll & Hyde called His Work And Nothing More.
(His Work And Nothing More plays)
J: And then we’re gonna go to Nosferatu in Dracula, which is many years later.
J: Same melody. Literally the same melody.
A: I think the lyrics are better.
J: Yeah, the lyrics are better. But literally he just took a song from his other musical and put it into this musical and expected us not to notice.
A: Yeah, he did that. And he also made it, like, one of the main themes.
J: Yes, he did.
A: Cus this song comes back all the time, over and over.
J: But when I first heard it, because it plays in the prologue, I'm like “that is His Work And Nothing More” and then it comes back as an actual song and I’m like, (hyperventilates) “Oh, my God. Oh, my God.”
A: But this is like the Van Helsing song where he's explaining what vampires are.
J: Yes, he explains. And it's taking actual lines from the book like “the bee dies when it stings, but not the Nosferatu.” Like, that's a literal word-for-word from Stoker's book. And there's only two other musicals that I see that do that. Well, I think this one does it alright. But I think Paul Gordon's Jane Eyre does a great job of translating the actual text of the book into lyrics in a way that still feels like poetry. And of course, Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812 does that perfectly too
A: And Cats.
J: No, it doesn’t. No, no, it doesn't do a good job. It's a bad bad job, Andrew, I think I think you need to get your brain checked.
A: Yeah, you're right. You're right. Thank you.
J: Think you might have a case of the idiots.
A: Well, I mean, at least he was able to salvage something from Jekyll & Hyde.
J: And that's as positive as Andrew gets. All right. Let's talk about Life After Life, the act one closer.
(Life After Life plays)
A: Yeah. Which is weird that they close act one with Dracula and Lucy and not Dracula and Mina.
J: It makes sense to me. Because, as we say, you should end act one on what's going to bring people back - basically a cliffhanger. And this is like, he finally brought someone back from the dead. That is the cliffhanger. He brought a dead woman to life again. And they're about to wreak some havoc.
A: You know, I wish they went over the rules a little more. So, in order to turn someone else into a vampire, he has to make someone drink his blood?
J: Yes, he has to drink their blood and they have to drink his blood.
A: Okay, what if someone just drinks his blood? What happens?
J: I don't know. I think it's like a ritual thing. But that was from the book as well. That is not a musical original. And they don't explain it well. Once again, it's all in letters, so they just walk in and they see Mina drinking out of like – or, Lucy drinking out of his cut-open body and he's drinking out of hers. And they’re like “what's going on here?”
A: It's a bit crazy to think that back then this must have been such a scary book to read.
J: Probably was. There was like, “oh my god is they really write these letters? Oh my god, is this real? “
A: Yeah, it's like legit found footage.
J: But what do you think of the song itself, Life After Life? I think this song’s actually pretty cool-sounding.
A: It didn't stick with me hugely.
J: I think just the mixing of the voices – like, the specific vocal timbre of Lucy and Dracula. And the plan of like, “yeah, we're gonna fuck shit up and you better stick around for act two because we're gonna fuck things up”. And then she dies immediately.
A: Yeah, they just cut her head off and it's just like,
J: “Fuck this bitch, stab her, cut that head off.”
A: Then Helsing’s like, “Yep, we did it. Alright.”
J: “Alright, job well done. We gotta save Mina now and get this motherfucker.”
A: I want to be a vampire hunter. That’d be so cool.
J: Maybe the 2004 Van Helsing movie with musical icon Huge Jackass.
A: I'm not gonna watch that. It looks like shit.
J: It's not great.
A: The 2000s - and I've been saying this for a long time - The 2000s were the worst decade ever to happen.
J: I don't have anything to refute that, but I like The Dark Knight.
A: Sure, maybe. The 2000s sucked. Anyone has a refutation to the 2000s being the worst? Nobody? The movies looked like shit. It was back when, like, CGI was like garbage. And they had this dark emo thing going on where every movie had to be pitch black. It was awful. I hate the 2000s. And then you got like apple bottom jeans boots with the fur. The whole club is looking at her.
J: (sings Low)
B: Um, I feel like the only movie I remember from the 2000s is Rugrats Go Wild. Is that the only movie that came out?
A: Yeah, that might’ve been the only movie that came out during the 2000s. It’s the only one worth salvaging from that decade.
J: Andrew, do you remember the Patreon podcast where you just spent the entire time and stuff talking about how pretty much the only VHS you had was Rugrats In Paris?
A: Yeah. Rugrats In Paris was great.
B: Maybe that's the movie I'm thinking of. Rugrats Go Wild, no. Rugrats Go Wild is with The Wild Thornberrys.
J: Yeah, the original Avengers.
A: Yeah. And The Wild Thornberrys – like, that's like a racist thing now, right? You can't talk about that anymore.
J: Why? Cus Tim Curry said something problematic? What happened?
A: I don't know. I just feel like the whole white people and teaching the natives kind of thing. Isn't that racist now?
J: They just saw animals. Literally, the point was that she talked to animals.
A: What about the little boy that they're teaching how to talk? Like, come on.
J: That was a white kid that was thrown into the wild. That was a feral boy, Andrew. They did a whole episode like “well, how did he get there?” The British people came, they fucked around the wild. Their parents got murdered. They were just left to roam around the fucking jungle alone.
A: It's still racist.
J: Against the fucking Brits.
A: Yeah, you can be racist against white people. It's fine.
J: Yeah, just ask Ben Shapiro. And now for a surprise cameo - Ben Shapiro.
A: Hey, okay. You want me to talk about The Wild Thornberrys as Ben Shapiro?
A: I don't think I can do that, guys. I don't have a rant prepared.
A: Alright, maybe. (Ben Shapiro) Let's say - let's say, hypothetically, that you were a British person and you dropped off your child in the wild. And let's say, hypothetically speaking, that some Australians came and they found your British child and they just decided that they were going to raise him and teach him how to be Australian. Um, this is racist. This is not okay. You're being racist against the British ethnicity. Australians are not British. And that has always been true. There's no refuting that. That's facts. That's not feelings. (Ben Shapiro exits)
J: Where did you get them being Australian from?
A: I don't know, I’m just making shit up.
J: Alright, before we move away from Rugrats Go Wild. Bruce Willis voiced Spike, the dog in that movie.
A: Aren't the Rugrats Australian?
J: No! And he had to do press interviews for the Rugrats Go Wild. And it's obvious he did not understand the film he was in nor did he watch it.
A: “Yeah, I was the dog.”
J: No, it was like – it’s like these kids, cus you know, it's the Nickelodeon kids who’re like: “so what was the hardest part of playing Spike the dog?” He's like, “Well, he's a dog, man, like, dog’s a dog.
A: “So it was a dog”. Tim Allen would have taken that like a champ. He would have been like, “Yeah, I'm the shaggy dog in the shaggy dog movie.”
J: “You know what, you know what? You know what? Shaggy dog is the only movie with actual conservative values in current America.”
A: “They keep canceling all the conservative values from TV shows.”
J: “It’s like fucking Nazi Germany in Hollywood. He can't have a conservative belief without being thrown out into the fucking gulag.”
A: “Yeah, so it's like Nazi Germany. I'm just coming in. I'm like, I just want to make a show where I hate black people. And they just don't let me do it anymore.”
J: “Why can't I say the N word?”
A: “It’s like Nazi Germany.”
J: “To infinity and beyond.”
J: Literal things he has said. None of this is us exaggerating. Wait, hold on. I need to check to see if his website is still insane.
A: His website’s never gonna be updated. Don't even...
J: Everyone, do yourself a favor and go to Timallen.com and you will be better off for doing it.
A: It really is so great. It is just amazing. Jess, can you just describe it really quick for us?
J: It is like a mosaic painting of Tim Allen as Santa Claus. And just four links - live shows Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube and the words Tim Allen.
A: But no, you're missing – It’s mosaics but it's also like heavily pixelated and zoomed in way too far.
J: And he looks like Santa Clause is about to fucking cut himself or something.
A: It just - it does not look good. It's not a good look.
J: Alright, let's move on to Deep in the Darkest Night.
A: Wait, which one is Deep in the Darkest Night? Oh my goodness.
(Deep in the Darkest Night plays)
A: Yeah, yeah. I didn’t care.
J: It is something I wanted to bring up because it does sound pretty and it is, like, an actual plot-relevant song where they're, like, “we are going to do this thing and here's our goal” It sets up the fight scene pretty well.
A: It'd be so much more plot-relevant if they actually ended up killing Dracula.
J: It would have been. And I feel like in an early version, they probably did end up, like, “hey, let’s fuck up Dracula” instead of Mina being like, “I love you.” And he's like, “I condemn you to this life. Bleh.”
A: Yeah, speaking of - can we talk about There's Always A Tomorrow?
J: Briefly, after we talk about The Longer I Live.
(The Longer I Live plays)
A: What do you got?
J: Dracula's final solo number before he becomes a hero.
J: Basically, his discovery of, you know, “I've lived too long and I have hurt a lot of people and, you know, maybe it's best that I just do it all in.”
A: You know, when you say it like that, Dracula, I think you might be right.
J: It is a weird like - there was no discovery. It's just like “oh, Mina’s coming. You know what, maybe I don't deserve to live.”
A: “Oh, my entire goal of the entire musical is finally about to happen. Maybe I don't deserve this. Dracula’s got, like, major imposter syndrome.
J: Drac, Drac, you don't need them imposter syndrome.
A: No, Drac, you’re great. Look how young you look. I mean, sure, it's other people's blood, but like, come on.
J: It's a very short song. It's a weird - it's empty lyrics for one. Like most Frank Wildhorn outings, the lyrics mean nothing. Like, the final lyrics are “the longer I live without you near me, the longer the empty years will be/ the world will not turn until you turn to me/ my world will not turn until you turn to me.” And then he's like, “guess it's time to die.” I'm sorry, I just wanted to talk about how pointless a song that is. How it comes out of nowhere and is supposed to affect the overall theme on Dracula's final action.
A: Yeah. Which also kind of comes out of nowhere. Yeah, but now let's talk about There's Always A Tomorrow.
(There's Always A Tomorrow plays)
A: Oh boy, Dracula and Mina meet up and Mina’s like, “I love you” and Dracula's like “I love you too. That's why we cannot be together.” And then he dies.
J: It feels very romance novelesque, you know?
A: Yeah, I think it's a shitty ending to be honest. I don't like it.
J: No shit.
A: It's a Dracula. Like, Dracula was not supposed to like give up and just be like, “oh, maybe turning people into vampires is bad.”
J: Um, I mean, the show goes out of its way to try to show that Dracula is an alright guy.
A: It's like no, Dracula's not an alright guy. Dracula is a murderous, actual monster that is aligned with Satan.
J: But who did he kill in this musical? Like, he killed Renfield, the baby, but Renfield fucked him over and he was kind of useless anyways?
A: He killed Lucy.
J: No, Lucy got killed by the guys. By the boys.
A: He turned Lucy into a vampire.
J: Yes, but he's a vampire. He's just making her live forever. As he says, like, he literally stops by Mina’s house and she's like, “You killed Lucy?” And he’s like, “No, Lucy's good. She's out there fucking about. What are you talking about, ‘I killed her?’”
A: “I killed her? I just turned her into a monster that has to kill others to survive. What's wrong with that?”
J: I mean, Twilight can do it and it'd be romantic and literally a huge plot point. Why can't this do it? And say –
A: Twilight has vegan vampires like you can't – Twilight’s not a vampire story, okay? The vampires in that don't have to drink blood or anything.
J: They do have to drink blood. They just don't have to make it human blood.
A: Yeah. Which is stupid.
J: I guess. Um, alright.
A: Also, how many people has Dracula killed before this happened? I mean, come on.
J: They don't confirm it. None of them are #confirmed.
A: All of his vampire brides are dead. I mean, vampires are undead. If they're vampires, he killed them.
J: But do you have to be dead to be a vampire? And if so, like, what does death even mean?
A: Death is when your soul leaves this plane. Dracula and all of them are marching husks controlled by imps.
J: All right, Andrew, what is your overall thoughts on Dracula, the Musical and your cheese rating?
A: Dracula, the Musical was not terrible. Albeit bit boring, a little bit snoozy. Yeah, I feel like the music itself is kind of what holds it back in a lot of ways. It's just kind of a lot of the songs feel a bit meandering and don't really have the power impact that I'd like them to have. I'm not really sure. I don't know what it is about Wildhorn’s music. I feel like there's not enough movement in the music itself. It always just feels stagnant. And I'm not a huge fan of that.
J: Yeah. And it's also a specific type of music. Like, in the early aughts and late 90s, maybe it was pretty new on Broadway? But now it's like, everything kind of sounds like this?
A: Yeah. So, as far as like, do I recommend it? Sorry, Mina Moniri, I don't think I can.
J: Mina Moniri, Andrew just doesn't like you. I wonder who has it worse - Joseph Evans Green or Mina Moniri and recommendations for us?
A: Yeah. So, as far as a cheese I'm gonna give it. I wish I had like a good cheese from like, Transylvania, but I don't think that's a real place. I feel like that made they made that up for Dracula.
J: Transylvania is a real place.
A: Transylvania, I'm pretty sure it's fictional. It's a vampire location, doesn't really exist.
J: No, no, no, it’s a real place, Andrew.
A: So, I'm gonna give it Goya cheese just cus.
J: All right, Bree. How do you like our discussion?
B: Um, well, I don't want to watch the musical now. I will say that. No, but after reading the reviews, I was like, Huh, I don't know. But for a cheese I'm going to give you guys a head cheese, which is not cheese at all. It is a cold cut that originated in Europe. And I just, I don't know, I think it seems fitting.
A: It makes sense because Lucy's head gets cut off.
B: Yeah. And I would know that because I watched the musical.
A: No, you wrote the book.
B: Yeah, that's what it is. I wrote the book.
J: No, this musical isn't good. I get it. But also, I kind of have a soft spot for it. It sounds cool. I like a lot of the songs. I will listen to the cast album and not skip any of the numbers. I don't know what it is about Frank Wildhorn, but he does hit like a specific spot in my guilty pleasure bone. Where I'm just like, I can enjoy this even though I know it's garbage. Sorry, guys. I like watching Jekyll & Hyde.
A: Frank Wildhorn - is he like the what is that guy's name? The Ed Wood of musicals?
J: A little bit. But Ed Wood never got and kind of Frank Wildhorn has. Like, he did a Death Note musical in Korea. Like the guy is fucking weird and has like a strange career that I actually would love someone to analyze - not me. I got too much other shit to do. But either way, I gotta wrap this up. So, the cheese I am picking is a Dracula cheese sculpture. Which I'm going to show you guys because I think it's funny looking.
A: What type of cheese are made out of? Oh, it's the butt hair one.
J: Yeah, it's the butt hair one. It does not decompose or get moldy. Which is a great sign if you ask me. Yeah, it doesn't say it but they have a video of how was made. If you want to pay $183.60 cents to get your own very own cheese sculpture of Dracula. That's my cheese rating.
A: You got it.
J: I won the cheese rantings. Good luck, Juliette. Tell me I won. Be sure to say I won in the cheese rating list that you make. And be sure to rank Bree and Andrew as losers. But you know who isn't losers?
A: Our lovely folks over at Patreon.
WIKIPEDIA - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dracula,_the_Musical
The Bat Awakens, Stretches, Yawns - By Ben Brantley
Dracula Theatre Review - By Matthew Murray
Bloody Hell - By John Simon