There’s a reason why Dracula’s is one of the Gold Coast’s longest-running attractions, we find out when we visit. Easy to find, it’s a quick fix for a night’s experience. Directly opposite Pacific Fair and a short walk from the light rail’s Broadbeach South station, public transport accessibility is a bonus, but there’s quite a lot of parking around the venue itself.
But what about the show?
We have little idea what we’re in for and, as it turns out, we’re very pleasantly surprised. For some reason, I have the preconception of a medieval barn-like venue with costumed waiters, blood-dripping props and embarrassing stunts using the audience as crash test dummies. With Dracula’s a favourite destination for 18th birthday parties and group dining, it’s hardly surprising that we feel a bit tentative. Will the show be a raging party for a different core demographic? Will we relate to the content and find it enjoyable? We’re about to find out.
Our adventure begins in the car park, where appropriately clad ghouls usher us across to the VIP lane. Aha, you say, the special treatment! Yes, we’re invited guests, but it’s a benefit everyone can enjoy for a little extra money: to be treated like a VIP with a fast track entrance and exit, a champagne cocktail and seats on the balcony level with a better view. Well worth it, in our opinion.
One scary lift and a ghost train ride later, we’re in an ante room filled with corpses (think taxidermy, hanging bodies, and glass-topped coffins built into the floor), setting the theme for one crazy night’s entertainment.
In the theatre-like venue with skull and bones chandeliers overhead, our VIP seats have a great view of the stage. Our waiter sorts us out for drinks as we watch the lower levels of seating slowly fill – quite diverse in age and country of origin, as it turns out.
The coffin-shaped menu ‘Eat Me, Drink Me’ carries the food menu as well as plenty of drink choice: beer, wine and spirits through to elaborate cocktails with names like Redrum (a concoction served smoking in a beaker), Draco’s Amortentia (an ‘evil love’ vodka citron and amoretto potion), and the Witches’ brew – six shots to be shared in a giant skull.
With about 600 patrons to feed, the food order goes in promptly, with a choice of four mains: Bram Stoker’s Beef, Count Vlad’s Chicken, Furnace of Fish and Non-carnivorous delight (vegetarian). Soon after, our entrée arrives, a tasty Chicken, leek and fennel tartlet; quite tasty!
It’s dark and already the focus is on the entertainment. Yes, the cast have a bit of fun with the audience, replaying on screen some of our reactions to the ‘ghouls and ghosts’ frights on entry, but soon the attention turns to the stage with our radical DJ ‘Cock’O’ lip-syncing to music that’s been well-loved for decades.
The theme of the night’s show is ‘Retro Vampt, a 1970s inspired fangfest’. With plenty of raw material to work with from that era, we’re in for a treat: bee sting hair styles, flares, hippie clothing and a string of classic shows/movies/performances such as Hair, A Clockwork Orange, Rocky Horror Show, YMCA, ABBA, Queen, David Bowie and James Bond…to name a few.
After an intro of straight musical performance, the show moves effortlessly through costume and scene changes, drifting between the genres of musical theatre, vaudeville, burlesque, aerial acrobatics, skit, choreographed routine, stand-up comedy and puppetry all within the three-plus hour show.
Just as you do at theme parks, at Dracula’s you’ve got to hang loose and go with the crowd: have your picture taken, accept the commercial sale of souvenirs and photos, and agree to be the object of a bit of fun – none too intrusive, though.
Food wise, we enjoyed the entrée and dessert (a lychee liqueur mousse, set in a dark Belgian chocolate coffin, with local honey and a passionfruit coulis) more than our mains, which we thought were rather unmemorable, however for us the quality of the entertainment far outweighed these aspects of the evening.
Despite our misgivings, the performances were highly skilful and diverse, treading a fine line of being outrageous yet not tacky, a little bawdy without being crass. It’s a clever, witty and highly creative show.
For a few performances alone, the price of the show was worth it. Freddy Mercury would rise from the grave to enjoy the puppetry performance of Bohemian Rhapsody, and is your head didn’t spin to the original Rocky Horror Show, Dracula’s 6-minute-recap of it will blow your mind! Oh, and I’ll never look at a man in a towel the same way again!
As the applause dies away, our final impression is that the performers are an incredible bunch of entertainers! So, go with the flow, have a laugh, and embrace the experience… and you’ll have a great night out with friends.
1 Hooker Boulevard, Broadbeach Ph: 07 5563 4900
NOTE: Good Food Gold Coast were guests of Dracula’s. Tickets range from $92pp, however there are discount tickets available online. Retro Vampt is rated 15+, however Dracula’s also conducts children’s parties during daylight hours.