A bloody hilarious romp through ‘Dracula, A Comedy of Terrors’ Off-Broadway at New World Stages

Bram Stoker’s Dracula, the legendary 1897 neo-Gothic epistolary novel chronicling the strange events at the Transylvanian castle and English relocation of the eponymous vampire Count, has been an enduring literary presence and inspiration for countless adaptations on the stage and screen. In Dracula, A Comedy of Terrors, now playing at Off-Broadway’s New World Stages, Gordon Greenberg and Steve Rosen take an over-the-top parodic approach to the classic horror tale, in a high camp gender-bending post-modern reimagining, loaded with witty wordplay, pop-culture references, silly slapstick, sleight-of-hand tricks, and special effects that are bloody hilarious.

Andrew Keenan-Bolger, Jordan Boatman, James Daly, Ellen Harvey and Arnie Burton. Photo by Matthew Murphy.

Under Greenberg’s rapid-fire no-holds-barred direction, the 90-minute farce of a fright fest is framed in the meta-theatrical device of five Actors presenting a play, with four of them performing multiple quick-change roles (sometimes opposite themselves at a dizzying pace), in a laugh-out-loud mash-up of the Victorian era and now. While the characters are loosely derived from Stoker’s original, they and their inter-relationships have been wildly redefined from a current perspective; many are gender-reversed, pan-sexual, or cross-gender cast, and the eponymous immortal is portrayed as “a sexually charged rock star of a vampire” with a well-toned physique, a huge ego, and a biting thirst for blood of all types (along with a tendency to let slip revealing personal references to centuries past).

Andrew Keenan-Bolger and James Daly. Photo by Matthew Murphy.

An across-the-board all-in cast delivers the full-out zaniness with masterful comedic skill and split-second spot-on timing. James Daly stars in the titular role, slinking and sliding across the stage, appearing and disappearing with the swish of his cape, baring his fangs and seducing his victims with lustful bravado, hissing and hiding at the sight of garlic, and divulging his aversion to mirrors and daylight. He makes for one hot vampire you would love to be bitten by and oddly end up rooting for, who brings out the inner selves, bravery, and desires of the others.

James Daly and Jordan Boatman. Photo by Matthew Murphy.

The rest of the top-notch company embraces a variety of demeanors and accents (with dialect coaching by Jerome Butler) as they transition fluidly from one wacky figure to the next and recite their interspersed journal entries. Andrew Keenan-Bolger is absolutely sidesplitting in his main role as the nerdy British real-estate agent Harker (as he is in all his different parts and his working of Tijana Bjelajac’s amusing and scary puppets of bats and subsidiary characters), who wavers back and forth between his innate fear and timidity, and his encouraged emulation of the very cool Dracula. He is engaged in this reworked version of the story to the much more courageous and adventuresome Lucy, played to perfection by Jordan Boatman (completely nailing the speech patterns and social classes of the range of figures she portrays), whose elitist father and main narrator Dr. Westfeldt, consummately captured by a cross-dressed and often deadpan Ellen Harvey (who also appears as his insect-eating mentally ill patient Renfield and others), is prone to snobbish comments and sexist remarks, until his daughter and vampire expert Dr. Jean van Helsing change his attitude.

Ellen Harvey, James Daly, and Arnie Burton. Photo by Matthew Murphy.

And Arnie Burton is a non-stop laugh-riot in drag as both the strong and feminist German woman van Helsing (not the Dutch male of the original) and Lucy’s sister Mina (not her best friend, as in Stoker’s book), who lacks the beauty and appeal of her sibling, can’t hide her jealousy, and relentlessly throws herself at anyone and everyone who’d have her (even though no one really wants her). He and the entire cast keep the audience screaming.

The hysterically funny book and performances are supported by a terrific artistic team that likewise combines stylings of the 19th-century with updated elements of today, as seen in the lavish time-spanning costumes of Dracula and Harker by Tristan Raines and Ashley Rae Callahan’s hair and wigs. Bjelajac’s dark and towering set evokes the Gothic-revival architecture of Stoker’s period, while lighting by Rob Denton and original music and sound by Victoria Deiorio elicit the innate creepiness of the genre and the faux frights of this outstanding comedy. If you love to laugh and enjoy a clever new take on a classic, it’s a must-see for the Halloween season – and for any time of the year.

Running Time: Approximately 90 minutes, without intermission.

Dracula, A Comedy of Terrors plays through Sunday, January 7, 2024, at New World Stages, 340 West 50th Street, NYC. For tickets (priced at $110-174, including fees), call (212) 239-6200, or purchase them online.


  1. It was just announced that from December 27-January 2, Dracula will welcome Broadway’s Taylor Trensch, who will assume the role of Harker and others for his one-week engagement.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here