Staff writers  |  Here are reviews of two recent Piccolo Spoleto shows that you might find to be interesting.

Stoker preserves his great-uncle’s legacy

Nobody in author Bram Stoker’s family wanted to promote “Dracula” – except for Dacre Stoker.

“[Bram] has got two great-grandsons still alive. They’re in their late seventies,” Stoker said. “And they’ve got some children and grandchildren. But they haven’t really been that focused on ‘Dracula’; they’re in full agreement that I go ahead and do all the promotion that I do, and they’re happy to provide me with information.”

Stoker, who’s in his sixties, is the great-grandnephew of Bram Stoker. He and his team are putting on a theater production of “Dracula” for Piccolo Spoleto, with performances at the Chapel Theatre through June 5. 

A native of Montreal, Canada, Dacre Stoker was a physical education and science teacher before really deciding to dive into his ancestor’s work. And that was because of his wife, Jenne, who’s from the South.

“I don’t think all Southerners are into ancestry, but my wife is,” Stoker said. “And she said, ‘You know, Dacre, we really need to make sure we find out more about the generation of your great-grandfather.’”

Through diving into the ancestry of his great-grandfather, George Stoker, Dacre Stoker inevitably came across Bram Stoker as well. For the last 12 years, Dacre has visited all the places where Bram spent time writing, discovered a mysterious illness that Bram had for the first seven years of his life, and written three books, including prequels and sequels to “Dracula.”

Dacre also lectures, and now, produces theater shows on “Dracula,” such as the one at Piccolo Spoleto — which marks 125 years since “Dracula” was published. The show features dramatic readings of the novel as well as unpublished portions of “Dracula.” An actor will also play Bram Stoker to provide additional context.

“I’ve been doing these lectures all over the world,” Stoker said. “We’ve got lots of really cool images on the slides, like Bram’s notes, the books that he studied, but there’s nothing better than when (the audience) connects with actors.” — Gabriel Veiga

The Charlestones provide crowd-pleasing a capella delight

The Charlestones really can “sing anything” as the name of their  June 1 show implied. Todd Monsell, Brink Norton, Stephen Spaulding and William Purcell gathered that evening to sing at St. John’s Lutheran Church, where it all started in 2014. The  group has been performing as part of the Piccolo Spoleto lineup for six years. The four voices came together in harmony to show off their impressive range in voices and set list.

Norton introduced the first song they learned together, an African American Spiritual, “Standing in the Need of Prayer.”  Their rapport was evident and they effortlessly harmonized and sang the uplifting tune. It’s clear these four singers have been working together for a long time. 

They also joked around, adding silly dances to songs like “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” from “Spamalot.” They also showed their lyrical humor through “John Williams Is the Man,” a parody of John Williams’ melodies sung through Star Wars dialogue.

Overall, the show was a wholesome, family-friendly  good time. There was a little something for everyone in the setlist, and each song arrangement was unique — truly highlighting the four voices. — Riley Utley

  • The Charlestones will be performing a program “Love is in the Air: A Serenade of Love Songs” at 7 p.m. June 8 in the Circular Congregational Church.  

Veiga and Utley are graduate students  in the Goldring Arts Journalism and Communications Program at Syracuse University.

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