THE mayor of South Tyneside has been exposed as a vampire.
Coun Ernest Gibson dropped by the rehearsals for South Shields playwright Ed Waugh’s latest show.
Dracula: Die Laughing is set to be staged at the Westovian Theatre in Pier Parade, South Shields, on Tuesday and Wednesday, before it heads off to the Whitby Goth Festival, on Saturday, April 26.
Coun Gibson said: “I’m a big fan of plays by Ed and his co-writer Trevor Wood. They produce funny but thought-provoking work.
“As well as attending Amazing Grace, about Grace Darling, which they toured a couple of years ago and A Funny Thing Happened On The Way to Durham, about the Lindisfarne Gospels, last year, I went to London in 2009 to see their play Maggie’s End, which was performed off West End at the Shaw Theatre.
“It was the official focal point of the 25th anniversary of the Miners’ Strike and a fantastic occasion. There were about 20 of us from South Tyneside at the opening night and the packed hall went ballistic.”
Dracula: Die Laughing is Ed’s first solo project and is being directed by South Shields-based Gareth Hunter, of Ion Productions.
The cast is made up of Paul Dunn, Corinne Kilvington, Lauren Waine and Craig Richardson, who have all trodden the boards at the Westovians and The Customs House in recent hit shows.
Ed, whose show Dirty Dusting is currently on show, said: “Dracula: Die Laughing is a spoof about the Dark Lord.
“Given Dracula comes ashore at Whitby in Bram Stoker’s book, it has resonance that, in our version, the Count is past it and hiding from vampire slayers at the Whitby Goth Weekend, where 12,000 people attend to take in the alternative styles, music and laid-back atmosphere of the fantastic event.”
While Paul Dunn, as Dracula, remains constant throughout, the other three actors play more than 20 characters, ranging from Batman and Robin to George Formby and Miss Havisham.
Director Gareth said: “It’s a bit surreal. There’s also an appearance by Bram Stoker.
“We played pub and college venues in a pre-run last autumn, attracting sold-out audiences in Durham, Sunderland and North Shields, and judging by the response, we knew we had a very funny play.
“The rooms were small, so the cast performed literally a yard or so from the audience. Every move and word was under scrutiny. Some of the costume changes weren’t as quick as we’d expected and that caused even more hilarity. The feedback was terrific.”
He added: “I’m amazed at how many people from South Tyneside have contacted me to say they are going to Whitby.
“I can’t guarantee people will be spooked by this version of Dracula, but we can promise a bloody good laugh.”
The pre-Whitby shows will be performed at the Westovian Theatre in South Shields on Tuesday and Wednesday, at 7.30pm.
Tickets cost £8 and can be bought from the Tourist Information Centre in Haven Point, which is opposite the theatre, or by calling 07751 246176.
Whitby performances at the Coliseum Theatre take place on Saturday, April 26 and Sunday, April 27.
The Saturday shows are at 2pm and 7pm, and Sunday’s shows are at 11am and 2pm. Tickets cost £10 with an £8 concession. To book, call 01947 825000 or 07751 246176.