“Dracula’s Party” For Families Set For October 30

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KINGSTON, R.I. – October 8, 2010 –Halloween will start a day early at the University of Rhode Island, with a special concert performance of the children’s musical Dracula’s Party and an afternoon of pre-concert activities for children and families on Saturday, October 30. All of the event activities will take place in the URI Fine Arts Center, 105 Upper College Rd., Kingston.

Starting at 1 p.m., students, graduates, and faculty from all of the URI Fine Arts departments will partner to offer arts and crafts, games, seasonal music, a costume contest with special guest judges, and more, leading up to the concert at 4 p.m.. The cost is $5 per person, or $15 for families of four, which includes the concert.

Afternoon activities will include pumpkin decorating, puppet-making, Halloween trivia and musical games, face-painting, the Haunted Hall, and more, including the “costume extravaganza.” Participants are encouraged to come in “appropriate disguise”. Karen Adams of WPRI Eyewitness News, URI’s First Lady, the Rev. Lynn Baker Dooley, and Dracula himself will wander the halls and judge the costumes between 3-4 p.m.

The concert features the URI Symphony Orchestra, Ann Danis conducting, with faculty artist Rene de la Garza as Dracula and support by the URI Concert Choir, presenting the world-premiere of the fully-orchestrated version of Dracula’s Party. This original children’s musical in two acts, with music by RI composer Geoffrey Gibbs, and book and lyrics by Robert L. Tyler, follows what happens to four young trick-or-treaters who ring the doorbell on Dracula’s house, only to discover that it is occupied by monsters and bats enslaved by the evil Count. The monsters and bats are children from previous Halloweens who have been transformed. These four young people must find a way to escape and in the process free all the other children. In addition to de la Garza as Dracula, the performance will feature Celia Tafuri, Erin Maughan, Billy Ray Poli, and Devon Morin as the four trick-or-treaters. All four are voice majors in their sophomore year at URI; Tafuri, Maughan, and Morin are all from North Kingstown, and Poli is from South Hadley, MA.

The musical was originally created for the South County Children’s Theater directed by Judith McNab, and was performed there in 1986, again during the 1990’s, and in 2000. Those productions used a small chamber group of instruments and featured children singers and actors. Composer Gibbs has spent countless hours creating a new 200-page orchestral score for this performance, featuring “all sorts of wonderful sounds including a huge percussion section with musical saws, timpani, tam-tams, etc.” He characterizes the style as “rock ‘n roll”, in keeping with musicals currently on Broadway, but points out that few of those are using full orchestras anymore. Gibbs is semi-retired from the URI Music Department where he has taught since 1965. He holds three degrees in composition from the Eastman School of Music where he was a student of Howard Hanson. He also studied composition privately with Elie Seigmeister.

The concert will also include a medley of selections from The Phantom of the Opera.

The URI Concert Hall is handicap-accessible, and parking is available in the lot behind the Fine Arts Center, off Bills Road.

For more information, please contact the URI Department of Music, 874-2431, or check the website: www.uri.edu/artsci/mus.