Who needs trick-or-treating and candy when you have the theatre? At least that’s our motto here at American Theatre around this time of year (at least among staffers who don’t have children but are too old for free candy). Haunted houses, warehouses and dark streets aren’t the only places that can scare you and make you jump during Halloween.
Theatres, where dressing up in costumes happens 365 days out of the year, are getting in on the scary fun, too. Here’s a sampling of Halloween shows happening around the country this weekend where, for once, the audience will be wearing the costumes.
Do you have a Halloween show to recommend? Leave them in the comments!
Want to just see a good, old-fashioned play with a scary theme? This Alley Theatre, which features the monochromatic costume and set designs of macabre master Edward Gorey, has you covered.
Honorable mention: Actors Theatre of Louisville in Kentucky’s annual production of Dracula, an annual tradition that turns 19 this year, showing that Christmas does not have a monopoly on holiday perennials.
For those who want to give their bones a literal shake, there’s Redmoon Theatre’s annual Halloween shindig. It’s not just about dancing and drinking at this party, held at the theatre’s headquarters. Revelers can confess their sins at a confessional booth and receive a shot (instead of a blessing), star in a short film and share it with their friends, and shoot fire in the air.
Honorable mention: The 34th installment of the Village Halloween Costume Ball at Theatre for the New City in New York City. Partygoers roam the theatre’s four spaces, plus a city block, and on-site entertainment includes The Red and Black Masque, an annual Medieval ritual show by Arthur Sainer, dancers and fire-eaters.
This newish Atlanta tradition (in its second year) sets Washington Irving’s classic tale in an actual stable, where audience members follow the action on foot, guided by roving narrators. A highlight: the Headless Horseman enters the scene on a real horse.
Honorable mention: It’s already passed (doh!) but ShakesFEAR, presented by Illinois Shakespeare Festival, is hoped to become an annual event. In this haunted tour, which happened on the grounds of a real-life stone manor, William Shakespeare introduces the audiences to his scariest characters.
For those who appreciate their Halloween with a touch of camp, this installment of Bricolage’s Midnight Radio comedy series gives the 1976 Brian DePalma film Carrie the 1940s radio treatment, with vintage sound effects and commercial spoofs along with the buckets of pig’s blood. And on Halloween, audience members are encouraged to dress in their best (and bloodiest) prom attire for Bricolage Prom. Just so you know what the competition will be like, Carrie is played—of course—by a man.
Honorable mention: Maryland Ensemble Theatre also regularly offers a comedy show, and Nov. 2nd, their weekly Last Hurrah series will feature the creative team behind Landless Theatre’s recent prog-rock version of Sweeney Todd to discuss electrifying Sondheim. For anyone who is not Maryland-based, each episode of Last Hurrah is recorded, then released as a podcast the next day.
So we lie—this event isn’t actually on Halloween, but it’s close, and not just date-wise: The Mexican “Day of the Dead,” after all, shares some All-Saints-Day DNA with many of the hallowed All Hallow’s Eve traditions. On Nov. 1, Cleveland Public Theatre will host its 10th annual colorful Dia de Muertos celebration, featuring live mariachi music, art installations and a community parade called “Skeletons and Skulls.”
Honorable mention: The eighth annual Dia de Los Muertos at 24th Street Theatre in Los Angeles, similar to CPT’s event, but for Southern California residents.