Dracula- meet director Jennifer Lyman!

Tell us a little about yourself.
I grew up on a farm in Montana and received a Bachelor Degree in Media and Theatre Arts from Montana State University. I have been active in Community Theater for over 20 years and started out right here at LTA on light and sound crews. Because I have too much free time, I soon added Master Electrician, Lighting Designer, Stage Manager, Producer, and Director to my resume. You may have seen me on stage in The Will Rogers’ Follies at Dominion Stage, War of the Worlds/The Shadow at Port City Playhouse, or Footloose here at LTA.  I have produced 16 productions including LTA’s Plaza Suite; Funny Money; Scrooge, the Musical; and Intimate Apparel.  This is the third show I have directed for LTA after Dirty Blonde and A Christmas Carol. I also directed The Drawer Boy; Bug; ‘night, Mother; and Any Given Monday at other local theaters. 

What do you find appealing about this show?
Dracula is a dark and twisted play, and that is what I am drawn to direct. I like exploring the darker side of life through drama. It is a complex play that will challenge the actors, the designers, and me to reach deep and devote all our skills, creativity, and energy to create a successful and impactful production. On top of that, it is Dracula – a pivotal work that everyone knows.

How does Dracula differ from other shows you have worked on?
This production has far more special effects than any other play I have directed or been a part of. Add to that all the lights, sound, costumes, wigs, makeup, and the sheer number of scenes and it adds up to lots of spreadsheets, diagrams, discussions, and work sessions to pull it all together and make it work.

What do you want the audience to experience when they come see Dracula?
Everyone is going to come in with some expectation for Dracula and although our version can never match what is in their minds, I hope the audience likes what we have created. I want the audience to be entertained, thrilled, surprised, and maybe unexpectedly feel some sympathy for a character they didn’t expect to connect with. 

Who is your favorite vampire and why?
It is hard to pick just one vampire when there are so many appealing ones. I asked my cast a similar question early on in the rehearsal process. Actually, I asked them: “If you had to pick one vampire to bite you who would you pick?” My answer was Mick St. John from the 2007 television show Moonlight played by Alex O’Loughlin. I picked him because I love the show; Alex O’Loughlin is gorgeous; and Mick, while a vampire, was a good person who helped people and didn’t kill or turn humans. Therefore, being bitten by Mick St. John would be thrilling but not deadly.

What made you get involved in theater?  How did you get involved with LTA?
Twenty years ago, I was singing with a local chorale group and another member suggested that I might enjoy volunteering at LTA. I did not know anything about community theater and hadn’t a clue where I should start, so my friend hooked me up with the lighting crew working on No Sex Please, We’re British! Four shows later, I was the Master Electrician and teaching myself to step in and design lights.

What advice would you give others who are interested in working in theater?
Do it! It is a great place to meet people, have fun, be creative, and develop transferable skills like problem solving, planning, organization, scheduling, budgeting, project management, team building, networking, and leadership.