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Nemesis of Dracula returns to Arviat

The John Arnalukjuak Drama Club is wrapping up the run of its Halloween play with a highly anticipated public performance of the Nemesis of Dracula tonight, Oct. 30, in Arviat.

At the end of the show, the club will have performed the timeless vampire story four times this week; twice for students and twice for the general public.

Cast members of the John Arnalukjuak Drama Club rehearse the moment just before Dracula’s (Ted Thompson) death by wooden stake by villagers, from left, Myles Budden, Justin Suluk and Jayden Angalik at John Arnalukjuak High School in Arviat on Oct. 24. Photo courtesy of Gord Billard

The run marks the second time the club has performed the Gothic thriller, having first taken it to the stage in Arviat in 2012.

Director Gord Billard said the show was a tremendous success in 2012, breaking local attendance records at the time for a stage performance.

He said he decided to bring it back this year when the students suggested it was time for another Halloween play.

“This version was actually written by my old high school drama teacher, Alistair Rice, and, when we did the play back in the late ’70s, I played the role of Dracula,” said Billard.

Vampire hunting brothers, from left, Nicolas Meyer (Justin Suluk) and Rudolph Meyer (Kevin Mikiyungiak) discuss their plan to kill Dracula during rehearsals of the John Arnalukjuak Drama Club production of Dracula at John Arnalukjuak High School in Arviat on Oct. 24. Photo courtesy of Gord Billard

“I held onto that script for all these years and now we’re doing it here for the second time.”

This year’s production has 23 characters being handled by 18 cast members.

Billard said with some of the cast members pulling double duty, sharp-eyed local theatre lovers might notice someone being killed in the first scene and then showing-up later as a different character.

He said the cast is exceptionally strong, and he’s confident the Nemesis of Dracula will send more than a few folks in the crowd home with a case of the willies.

“We have Ted Thompson in the lead as Dracula, who is on the stage with me for the first time. He stepped-up to the plate and wanted to do take on the lead role and he’s doing a great job with it,” he said.

“Some graduates have come back to do Nemesis of Dracula with us, including Andy Evaluardjuk, who was in our first production 12 years ago, and he’s taken on one of the main roles with Rudolph, one of the vampire hunters.

“Another main role, vampire hunter Nicolas, is a great story because it’s being shared by Kevin Mikiyungiak and Justin Suluk, who both fell from a roof this past year in Arviat and almost died.

“They both spent several months in Winnipeg being treated but they’re back now, doing great, and sharing a great role in the play.”

Billard said the troupe started rehearsing right after Labour Day and the rehearsals went great, especially considering the number of people he had to rely on to show-up every week.

He said he can’t say enough about the dedication and commitment of the cast members throughout the process; sticking with it even when disappointment struck.

“Chasity St. John was playing one of the main roles as Mary Ann, one of Dracula’s favourite brides, and she had a very dramatic scene in which the vampire hunters kill her with a wooden stake through the heart,” he said.

“We found out halfway through rehearsals that Chasity had to leave for wrestling tryouts during our play dates and, although we did our best to accommodate her travel, there just wasn’t enough time for us to pull it off.

“Chasity was the first to suggest she step aside and let someone else play the role, so, thanks to her, we were able to perform the shows on the dates we had originally planned.

“I felt really bad about not having her involved because she was doing a great job with that role, but, when it came down to the crunch, we realized it was best for us to get someone else to do it.”