Resounding presents “Dracula”: LIVE immersive audio drama, review by Andrea Santo Felcone

DraculaA new live immersive audio entertainment company, appropriately named Resounding, debuted their first audio play this past weekend with two performances of “Dracula”–one on the eve of Halloween, the other on Halloween itself. If you think back to images of old radio show performers huddled around a large microphone, this experience takes that as its seed of inspiration. However, due to the pandemic, the cast of “Dracula”—all performed LIVE—but amazingly—from remote locations. It was really fun to listen to this production, and an especially great treat to hear the ending credits where each performer announced the location where they were performing from, some in NYC, some in California, many of them using their closets as recording studios.

The creative force and director behind Resounding, Steve Wargo, has been thinking about how performances such as these—immersive audio dramas—could work, for the better part of a decade. In his own words, he had been considering, “how to leverage the internet to increase audience and participation in the theatre….” Now, with the pandemic tragically shutting down physical theaters, this challenge offered Wargo the opportunity for his ideas to take center stage—specifically, a chance to recreate the style and substance of the broadcasts that Orson Welles and his Mercury Theatre performed live on the radio in the late ‘30s.

This audio play of “Dracula” suggested by Welles’ 1938 radio adaptation, uses new technology to create a 360-degree soundscape of howls, bats, screams, creaky floors, slamming doors, and everything else that goes bump in the night. The sound effects were phenomenal. Kudos to David Horowitz as Director of Technical Design for such outstanding execution. And credit, of course, goes to an amazing cast featuring Tony-nominee Norm Lewis (Broadway: Once on This Island, The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess) who as Dracula, was deliciously creepy, without over-exaggeration. The cast played perfectly in sync with one another and also featured Lindsay Nicole Chambers (Broadway: Lysistrata Jones, Legally Blonde, Hairspray) as Mina Murray, Siho Ellsmore (Off-Broadway: Jewtopia) as Lucy Westenra, Chris Renfro (TV: “The Happy Place,” “Reno911!”) as Jonathan Harker, Dick Terhune (TV: “Transformers: Cyberverse”) as Prof. Van Helsing, Stuart Williams (Off-Broadway: The Report) as Dr. Seward and John Stimac (Film: Lethal Force).

Now, although I know about the vampire Dracula through pop-culture, I have never read the Bram Stoker original. Nor am I familiar with the Orson Welles’ radio play. So, I was coming to this with fresh ears. It took a minute or two for the show to begin, and Resounding has created a “virtual lobby” (the sound of audience-members-milling-about)—which unfortunately, sounded a bit like static on my laptop. Once the audio play began, I will confess to being slightly confused at the start, by the storyline–there are several characters to get to know. I found myself wanting to see something on my laptop screen, just to envision the setting. However, once I became accustomed to the characters, their language, (of course it isn’t modern language), their accents, etc., I was carried along in the story and enjoyed the atmosphere very much. I no longer wished to see something as I became engrossed in the story and fully enjoyed the performances.

All told, the audio play runs for one hour, and in that hour the suspense increases as the story unfolds. The story is conveyed through the reading of documents, telegrams, and letters–a very effective way of presenting information in an audio format. The suspense and sound effects were among the highlights as well as the wonderful voice work by the performers. Cackles, screams, mirrors breaking…. I don’t think I want to know how they created the very realistic ‘staking of the heart’ scenes, although a part of me is a bit curious. (It is said that Orson Welles’ team used a watermelon and a hammer.) No matter what was used, it all led to quite a creepy experience—perfect for Halloween.

“Experience” is a vital word for the creators of Resounding. Resounding wants to provide audiences a route to get back to what they love about theater, the full and rich experience it provides. To this end, they have set up Pinterest boards for audiences to get ideas about ways to dress-up and turn these listening experiences into fuller experiences. (I’m sure future audiences can figure ways to “Zoom” parties with friends and extended family, thus listening to these immersive stories separately—yet together.) Resounding has also partnered with award-winning NYC bartender Jena Ellenwood to help curate custom cocktails (and non-alcoholic beverages) for each of their shows. A fun idea to round out the experience. Audience members are also encouraged to take to social media and post pictures of themselves enjoying performances. All in the effort of having a shared experience.

Now, while these “Dracula” performances have already run–you haven’t missed out. Resounding has a future line-up to look forward to, with an adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson’s “Treasure Island” (coming next) Resounding Treasure Islandand the World Premiere of “The Fantastical Tale of the Nutcracker and the Mouse King” (coming in December). Tickets are $20 and can be purchased by visiting For the best experience possible, headphones are recommended.

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