Dracula, A.D. 2011: Chris Love’s Hard-Rockin’ Harker

Children of the night, rejoice. The Little 5 Points Rockstar Orchestra is driving a stake into your preconceptions of rock opera as a dead-and-buried art form and putting the bite back into vampire lore at 7 Stages this week with HAUS VON DRACUL, PART 1. The production marks another collaboration between long-time Atlanta musician Rob Thompson (Ghost Story, Blistered), also owner of Java Lords Coffee House & Bar, who also plays the Count, and horror Renaissance man Shane Morton (Silver Scream Spookshow) who also created savage set design and make-up for the Rockstar Orchestra’s A KRAMPUS CHRISTMAS at 7 Stages last December.

Chris Love as Jonathan Harker in Haus Von Dracul, Part 1. Photo Credit: Nicole Boroski

ATLRetro caught up with guitarist Chris Love, who plays hero Jonathan Harker, this week, to dig up more about HAUS VON DRACUL and why a vampire rock opera makes for the perfect Valentine-week date.

1.  I’ve heard that Rob and Shane had been talking about HAUS VON DRACUL up to five years ago. How did the production get started, why did it come together now, and at what point did you get involved?

Yes, Shane and Rob came up with the idea about 5 years ago. Rob wrote a little of the music and put it on the back burner till Del [Hamilton, co-founder/artistic director] at 7 Stages wanted to put it on the stage. That was about a year ago. Rob then started back at it. He brought it to me around September last year. I was immediately taken with the mood of the songs. I thought it was perfect and was excited to be a part of another play. This will be my third ever after HAIR first,  then 666 CHRISTMAS WITH THE DEVIL. I then started helping out with the melody side of Jonathan’s parts, with a few re-workings of lyrics.

2.  Right now it seems like so many vampires are being sanitized and sparkled, but did I hear right that HAUS VON DRACUL is a return to the old legends of the Nosferati—evil bastards that you wouldn’t want to let right in?

I would have to agree. This is not the “pop” Dracula that you see today. There is really nothing outwardly appealing about Dracula in Rob’s rendition. He is creepy, devious, ruthless, horrid. Certainly not a Dracula that you want stuffed and in bed with your teenage daughter.

3.  Yet you’re staging the play the weekend before Valentine’s Day. The Atlanta Ballet did the same thing with its DRACULA a few years ago to great success, so can audiences expect seduction as well?

The show definitely portrays seduction in several ways. There’s blood lust, love between Jonathan and Mina, and an even stranger love relationship between Dracula’s wives.

Rob Thompson rehearses on the macabre set of Haus Von Dracul. Photo Credit: Nicole Boroski

4.  The photos that I’ve seen of Rob as Dracula remind me more of Vlad the Impaler than Bela Lugosi. To what extent is the story taken from Romanian history, Bram Stoker’s novel and other sources?

I would say that that this play stays very true to Stoker’s version. Rob often says that 90 percent of the lyrics are straight from the book.

5.  Although Dracula exudes a forbidden sex appeal, Jonathan Harker, while the hero, has seemed rather bland in many past Dracula dramatizations. What can audiences expect of this Harker and the mark you’ve placed on that role?

I can say that if anything my melodies are my greatest addition to Jonathan. The original Jonathan is still very much intact, however, for obvious  aesthetic reasons—being partially black being one; the other me being a bit taller than Dracula—I’m sure Jonathan will get some second looks.

6.  Now that we’ve talked about the horror, how about the sound? When I think of rock opera, it takes me back to the ‘70s with shows like JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR, TOMMY, HAIR, GODSPELL and THE WALL. How does HAUS VON DRACUL fit into that history or does it?

You are right on the money! This play will bring back ‘70s Rock Opera in a big way!

Shane Morton transforms Rob Thompson into Count Dracula. Photo Credit: Nicole Boroski.

7.  Where in the DRACULA saga does Part 1 end, and when will Part 2 hit the stage?

The first act ends with Dracula at sea on his way to England. And as for the second half, the goal is to have the second half finished and recorded by late next year. With a little help from investors I can see this play taking off. Everything now is being done entirely in house which demonstrates the honest interest and dedication of everyone involved.

8. Finally I guess it’s no understatement to say, there will be blood, buckets of blood?

Surprisingly enough, being a book about bloodsucking demons, the first act does not have tons of need for blood. However the opportunities we do have are being taken advantage of.

More About Chris Love:

Plays: Guitar

Also Performs in: Quench and FYN

Favorite Dracula Movie: BLACULA (1972)

Favorite Rock Opera: HAIR

Favorite Band: Winter Ransom

HAUS VON DRACUL plays Thurs.-Sat. Feb. 10-12 at 9 PM and Sun. Feb. 13 at 5 PM at 7 Stages, 1105 Euclid Ave., in Little 5 Points. Advance tickets are available here.

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