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High school 'Dracula' cast scares up support for Red Cross blood drive in Portland

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High school 'Dracula' cast scares up support for Red Cross blood drive in Portland

PORTLAND — A group of vampires from Deering High School are out for blood.

But before you reach for the garlic cloves, you should know it is for a good cause. 

The cast of Deering High School's "Dracula" (running Thursday-Saturday, Oct. 29-31) will be scaring up support for a Red Cross blood drive on Oct. 30. Student thespians will stand on the curb and hand out fruit juices to entice passers-by to part with a pint or so of platelets.

Ellen Russell, director of Maine services for the American Red Cross, said the organization needs to collect about 300 pints of blood a day to maintain its supply.

"We have seen a decrease in the number of donors in the last couple months," Russell said. 

Although the Red Cross holds an annual Halloween blood drive, where staff are encouraged to dress in costume, Russell said having the Deering High School drama club participate is an added bonus. "It's a great thing the drama club is doing," she said. 

School volunteer coordinator Tina Mickelson said civic involvement is becoming a more important component for student activities like theater. Since Red Cross always seems to be lacking an adequate supply of blood donors, she said having students promote the blood drive as part of their play just seemed natural.

"This summer when I heard they were doing 'Dracula,' the first thing I thought of was a blood drive," Mickelson said. "The kids loved it. They bought right into it."

After two consecutive years performing children's plays in the fall, DHS English teacher and drama coach Kathleen Harris said her students practically begged her to try something different, so the group decided to take a stab at Bram Stoker's classic vampire tale.

Harris said the production will be a traditional retelling of the Count Dracula story, a real estate tycoon by day who at night feeds his blood-lust in the eerie town of Transylvania. The make-up, wardrobe and lights are subtle shades of black and white, and the cast will have foot lights at their disposal to produce shadowed countenances.

But that's not to say there will not be variations. Since the vast majority of the 29 students who auditioned for parts were females, Harris had to change the gender of two characters, including Abraham Van Helsing (played by Franscesca Morabito), the eventual hero who slays Dracula (played by Alex Campbell).

"I figured most of the students haven't seen the original Dracula, so it wouldn't be too jarring," Harris said.

The blood drive will take place from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Red Cross Donor Center, 524 Forest Ave. Donors are encouraged to call 1-800-GIVE-LIFE or log onto GiveLife.org to schedule an appointment. Walk-ins are also welcome. 

People who give blood will be entered into a drawing to receive two free tickets to the DHS production.

Randy Billings can be reched at 781-3661 ext. 100 or rbillings@theforecaster.net