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CLHS students ready to give you chills

Cold Lake High School (CLHS) drama students are putting a modern twist on a beloved bone-chilling classic. From March 2 to 4, residents of the Lakeland are in for a scare as actors take to the stage at CLHS.

Cold Lake High School (CLHS) drama students are putting a modern twist on a beloved bone-chilling classic.

From March 2 to 4, residents of the Lakeland are in for a scare as actors take to the stage at CLHS. Stepping outside of their comfort zone, the Grade 10, 11 and 12 drama students are preparing for a show that will bring goose bumps to anyone who dares attend their rendition of the timeless tale of Dracula.

In previous years, CLHS has catered to the funny bones of those attending their annual performances, but this year teacher and play director, Dana Schwab, chose to take a walk on the dark side, while remaining faithful to Bram Stoker's novel, Dracula.

“In previous years we have had a lot of really comically-talented students with excellent physical comedy and excellent comedic timing. This round, we have those students still, but we have a couple who are typically impressive in terms of their dramatic ability, which is not easy. So we decided this year we were going to take a little bit of a risk… and we were going to try and do something a little bigger and more difficult,” continued Schwab.

Students have been preparing since the start of the school year, working hard to learn their lines and integrate some of the more dramatic affects that go along with a production such as Dracula, with CLHS staff lending a hand by creating the sets.

Actors and actresses have been watching their performance come to life as they begin to get closer and closer to show time, and have slowly been incorporating the music, background noise, lighting, and a fog machine to their rehearsals.

“Students have been commenting on the realism of it, and how we are able to create a lot of affects with a very small space and very few theatre tricks,” explained Schwab.

It is because of that realism that Schwab emphasizes this performance is not recommended for young children. The production includes rapidly changing lights, screaming, and mature scenes.

“It's a good show, but where CLHS has done comedies in the past… this one is definitely, definitely not for little kids. It is dramatic and scary,” Schwab described.

This year, due to the high number of students interested in taking part in the production, they split the play into two groups, with each getting their own chance in the spotlight.

The first set of performances kicks off with an evening show on Thursday, March 2, followed by a second performance on Friday, March 3. The curtain rises at 7:00 p.m. for both of these showings. Saturday includes an afternoon show at 1:00 p.m. and an evening show at 7:00 p.m.

“We have a big interest in the extracurricular drama program... and the play itself doesn't have a huge number of speaking roles, so I wanted to make sure that students were given the opportunity to be involved in drama if they wanted to be,” Schwab noted.

Having two groups also means students can review lines together, with someone who is playing the same character but on a different night.

Gabrielle Gagne, a Grade 12 student, is on stage as psychiatrist Dr. Seward, the administrator of an insane asylum located not far from Count Dracula's first home in Carfax. The character contributes to the understanding of the scientific explanation of vampirism.

Gagne is in her last year at CLHS, and started taking part in drama as a way of stepping out of her comfort zone. Since joining the drama class in Grade 9, she has acted in a number of productions hosted by CLHS, with this performance in particular being her biggest role to date.

Although it's off the beaten path, Gagne said she is enthusiastic about the opportunity.

“I am really excited; it's something challenging,” she said, adding she can't wait to see the crowd's reactions throughout the performance, and how other cast members portray their role on stage.

Schwab agreed, “We are looking forward to seeing the audience's reaction, because this is our first venture into more sophisticated special affects and a more sophisticated atmosphere… More than anything, I am just excited to show off some of the talent that we have here.”

Tickets for the show are available in advance through Dana Schwab at CLHS or online at, and can also be purchased at the door.