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On Stage: Gothic horror tale "Carmilla" set to debut in St. Albans

Promotional image for the play "Carmilla" (Courtesy Crooked Letter Creative and Astral Theatre Collective)

When you think of theatrical vampires, Dracula probably comes to mind.

However, a Gothic novella by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu is one of the earliest works of the genre, pre-dating Bram Stoker's classic tale by more than two decades.

"Carmilla" tells the story of a young woman who is preyed upon by a female vampire. But instead of attacking outright, the title character uses friendship and seduction to try and lure Laura to her doom.

"Laura's kind of this sheltered, innocent girl who grew up in this large castle schloss with only her servants and her father," Amelia Engle (Laura) said. "And then this mysterious, beautiful girl comes and just turns her entire world upside down. She becomes completely infatutated with her."

"I think she's a beautiful girl inside and out," Carrie Jo Rader (Carmilla) said. "I mean, obviously she's menacing and manipulative. But I think that she's a mysteriously gorgeous character."

Although not nearly as well known as "Dracula," researchers point to several similarities in the stories, which show that Stoker was heavily influenced by "Carmilla." While the tale has been told many times through many platforms, this version has been adapted by local playwright Adam Stover and director John Johnson.

"It's rarely staged," Johnson said. "There are a few scripts around but we wanted to do our version on it. You know, Astral is all about tales of mystery and imagination and bringing that sort of fringe branch of theatre to West Virginia."

Crooked Letter Creative and Astral Theatre Collective present "Carmilla"
Based on the horror classic by J. Sheridan LeFanu. Adapted by John Johnson and Adam Stover
Fri-Sat Aug 11-12 / 18-19 at 8pm
Alban Arts Center
65 Olde Main Plaza, St Albans, WV
Horror Genre. Contains strong imagery. Viewer discretion advised
$15 General Admission

CAST

Mademoiselle de la Fontain-Alicia Maynard
Laura-Ameia Engle
Father-Brian Kidd
Doctor-Brian J. Hatcher
Carmilla-Carrie Jo Rader
Peddler-Joseph McKinney
General Spielsdorf-Ronn Smith
Baron Vordenberg-Sean McCracken

Director-John Johnson
Producer-Adam Stover
Stage Manager-Bryant Morton
Special Effects Coordinators-Dale Morton, John Johnson, Brian J. Hatcher
Music-Fox Burroughs, Adam Stover
Costume/Production Design-John Johnson
Program Design-Carrie McCracken
Script-"Carmilla" is based on a story by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu, adapted by Adam Stover and John Johnson

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