Dracula: The Legend Comes to Life


Original Lyceum Theatre in New York

Blood-drinkers, vampires, nosferatu; the stories of blood-sucking vampires have been around so long that they actually predate Christianity. These numerous tales were expansive in its reach, as every country had its own legend. Bram Stoker, an Irish novelist, was the first to create a book about a specific vampire.

The year is 1890. Bram Stoker visits the small English coastal town of Whitby. Stoker began writing novels when he worked as a manager for Henry Irving as well as secretary and director of the Lyceum Theatre in London. He held this position for 27 years, meaning he was still at the theatre when Dracula was published in 1897. The inspiration for Dracula is widely theorized, but largely unknown. Some believe that the character of Dracula was based on Vlad Dracula III (Vlad the Impaler), a Romanian ruler known for his cruelty. He is also said to have drunk the blood of his enemies, a trait that very possibly could’ve been exaggerated after his death.

An artistic interpretation of Vlad the Impaler

While basing Dracula on Vlad is contested, it is true that Stoker named his main character after the famous ruler. The name Vlad Dracula comes from Vlad Dracula’s father, Vlad II Dracul. Dracul means dragon or dragonist, meaning Dracula denotes the son of the dragon. Vlad II Dracul was also part of the Order of the Dragon, a society of knights created to fight the Ottoman Empire during the Crusades. 

Though Vlad the Impaler’s conquests were chronicled in a book in 1490 titled “The Tale of Dracula”, Bram Stoker’s Dracula was the first known book to make the connection between Dracula and vampirism. The story of Dracula is told in an epistolary format consisting of various diary entries, newspaper stories, letters, and ships’ log entries. The narrators of these stories become the novel’s protagonists.

“’Dracula’ – the novel – is a series of letters, journal entries, and newspaper articles. That format doesn’t usually translate well to the stage. This adaptation by Dietz; it’s so expertly shaped and brilliantly written and it’s legitimately scary,” says director Justin Peck. “Oh yeah, there’s also plenty of blood.”

‘Dracula’ at the Underground, 2019

Our particular version of Dracula on the Underground stage is an adaptation by Steven Dietz. His version is based on the original novel by Bram Stoker and stays true to the theme of gothic horror, suspense, seduction, and blood.

“The Underground has such a unique and wonderful sense of place. The brick arches of that old railroad station seem custom-built for a show like this,” said Peck, when asked why do this show at the Underground Theatre. “We’re hopeful that they’ll [the audience] be as excited about seeing ‘Dracula’ down there as we are.”




  • What: Dracula
  • Where: The Duluth Playhouse at the Underground Theatre, 506 West Michigan Street
  • When: October 10-12, 17-19 @ 7:30pm
  • Tickets: www.duluthunderground.org or 218.733.7555