Pretty scary, huh kids?
Oh, all right, it wasn't very scary at all, but our job isn't to scare you; it's to tell you all the wild & crazy theatre events that are happening on and around Halloween, Oct. 31.
Let's begin with Boo-roadway, where cast-members from that gothic musical, Jekyll & Hyde, will appear at the Virgin Mega-Store on West 45th St. to sing, sign CDs and judge a costume contest. Robert Cuccioli, Linda Eder and Christiane Noll are expected to attend the 1 PM event. By the way, a portion of J&H ticket sales for the entire month of October has been going to the UNICEF in a special "Trick or Treat For UNICEF" campaign. Cuccioli will also appear on ABC-TV's "Good Morning America" on Halloween morning, performing the transformation scene from Jekyll & Hyde. Not only that, he'll spend 10 AM-1 PM at the Little Orchestra Society's "Happy Concerts For Young People" series for a special, "Halloween Magic: Trick Or Treat" show.
Daytime television will get even more Broadway ghoulishness when the new entertainment show, "The View," offers a special Halloween episode with performances from Beauty And The Beast (Deborah Gibson singing "Home"), Jekyll & Hyde, Grease! (including an interview with Linda Blair, who plays Rizzo), and The Life ("My Body"). Also, the cast from Cats will escort the guests throughout the show. "The View" airs weekdays, 11 AM -12 PM, EST on ABC-TV.
From 4-6 PM, at the Capezio Dance-Theatre Shop, 1650 Broadway at West 51st St., cast-members of The Life will judge a costume contest wherein entrants have to dress like -- you guessed it -- characters from The Life, or at least denizens of 1980s Times Square. Winners will take home a Capezio Gift Package and a pair of seats to the Cy Coleman musical.
Though Grease! wouldn't ordinarily qualify as a Halloweenish scarefest, the show does have one tie to the underworld: the current Rizzo is Linda Blair, best known as the little girl possessed by Pazuzu in William Friedkin's The Exorcist.
Meanwhile, Off-Broadway will offer a pumpkin-patchful of Halloween shows. Where better to start than the 21st annual Village Halloween Costume Ball, sponsored by Theatre For The New City. In previous years, the Ball has given a start to such performance artists as Penny Arcade, Paul Zaloom and Bloolips. It was, in fact, Theatre For The New City that originated the now-famous Greenwich Village Halloween parade as part of the Costume Ball. More than 1,400 participants are expected for this year's gala, starting at 5 PM out doors and moving into the East 10th St. Venue at 7:30 PM.
The big moment comes at 11 PM when costumes will be judged by such celebrity panelists as "Grandpa" Al Lewis, Yoko Ono, Lee Breuer, Maria Irene Fornes and Everett Quinton.
But that's not the only ghoulish gathering in the Village on Halloween. The self-proclaimed "Poe of East 10th Street," Edgar Oliver, is performing I Am A Coffin at La MaMa ETC. A semi-autobiographical, "eerie verse drama with gratuitous nudity, terrific sets and offensive costumes."
Michael Laurence directs Coffin, which features Anushka Carter as a maiden sawed in half, Marc Palmieri as a murdered youth, and Mary Lou Wittmer in the coveted role of Death. For tickets ($12) and information on I Am A Coffin (Oct. 30-Nov. 8), call (212) 475-7710.
Downtown theatregoers will also want to partake in P.S. 122's Avant Ghoul-Arama, a two-day off-shoot of their Avant-Garde-Arama mini-festival. Coordinated by Salley May, Avant-Ghoul-Arama (Oct. 31-Nov. 1) will be hosted by the Alien Comic and feature such performers as poet Evert Eden, The Liquid Tapedeck and Shih-Hue Tu. For more information call (212) 477-5288.
The psychological thrills continue at Marc Salem's Mind Games, a display of mental prestidigitation now in previews at the Westside Theatre in midtown. Mind Games will have a special midnight performance, Oct. 31, and if you come in costume, tickets are half-price (only $13.75).
And how's this for weird? Spokespersons for the Abingdon Theatre Company's new comedy, Hail To The Chef at the Theatre Row Theatre, sent along some accoutrements to go with the show's theme: fake brain matter. You see, the dark comedy deals with a 1966 dinner party where the diners may or may not have ingested portions of assassinated President John F. Kennedy's brain. Michael Dempsey's play opens Halloween night, of course, so for more information please see the news story, "JFK's Brain Served Up By Abingdon's Chef For Halloween."
In a more classically spectral vein there's Irish Repertory Theatre's Rafferty Rescues The Moon, a puppet-play about a young Irish lad who sets out to rescue the Moon, which has been swallowed by a Great Fish. Along the way, young Rafferty meets Finbar Bat, Spider Murphy, and other Irish folklore spirits, including Boneless and the slippery green Mergatroyd. The show, by June Anderson, begins previews on Halloween and opens at the Irish Rep's Second Stage Nov. 2 for a run through Jan. 4, 1998. For tickets and information call (212) 727-2737.
For more puppet-oriented comedy there's always the campy Tell-Tale, now in an open run at the Cherry Lane Theatre on Commerce Street. Directed by Joshua Rosenzweig, Tell-Tale features "dancing body parts and an on-stage decapitation!" For more information, please see the news story, "Cherry Lane To Host Tell Tale's Sherry Vine, Oct. 15."
Ah, but New York needn't have all the fun! There are Halloween hauntings at theatres all over the country.
At 5:30 PM, Oct 31, Seattle's A Contemporary Theatre, will offer a special pre-show, "All Hallow's Eve Lounge" before Bill Corbett's comedy, The Big Slam. Patrons can "sip strange brews" as they listen to the swinging sound of the band, Susan Pascal and the Vibraphonics.
Meanwhile, IL's Pheasant Run Resort Theatre will hold its annual Halloween Weekend (Oct. 31-Nov. 1), capping its three-week Oktoberfest Celebration. Saturday will offer trick-or-treats, pumpkin painting and pony rides. There'll also be scary movies for the children both Friday and Saturday nights. For information call (630) 584-6300.
Getting an early jump on the holiday, CT's Goodspeed Opera House sponsored this year's Harry Houdini seance,11 PM, Oct. 30, in connection with its current production, Houdini, the musical. During his lifetime, the famous magician vowed that after his death he would make contact from the spiritual world, if it were possible to do so. Houdini enthusiasts have gathered each year (for 71 years!) on the anniversary of his Oct. 31 death (coincidentally Halloween), to attempt contact. At 12:01 (the announced time of the magician's death) a psychic and 12 "inner circle" guests attempt to contact him. At press time, Elaine Kuzmeskus was scheduled to conduct this year's seance.
Even more traditionally, Dracula has been baring its fangs at the Actors Theatre Of Louisville since Sept. 30. V. Craig Heidenreich stars as the bloodthirsty count in this adaptation of Bram Stoker's novel by Hamilton Deane and John L. Balderston. The show runs to Nov. 1 and features William McNulty as Renfield. For more information call (502) 584-1205.
Moving from bloodless to headless, in North Carolina Flat Rock Playhouse offers an adaptation of Washington Irving's classic story, The Legend Of Sleepy Hollow. It's the tale of Ichabod Crane, a schoolteacher spooked by tales of a headless horseman. This musical adaptation, by Damian D. Domingue, opened Oct. 30 and runs only through Nov. 1. For tickets call (704) 693-0731.
And last, but certainly not least, we turn to Los Angeles where Bat Boy: The Musical takes wing Oct. 31. Half-bat/half-boy, the creature made its first appearances in the supermarket tabloid "The Weekly World News." But now the full story can be told -- by creators Keythe Farley and Brian Flemming and composer/lyricist Laurence O'Keefe. This "horro-comic" musical begins in Hope Falls, VA, where Bat Boy attacks three spelunkers. Instead of de-winging the freak, a kindly doctor tries to civilize him. For more information on this world premiere musical, please see the news story, "Bat Boy: The Musical Opens on Halloween in Hollywood, CA."
And may all our readers have a safe and happy Halloween filled with Bat Boys, pumpkins, witches, brains, mergatroyds and merriment.
-- By David Lefkowitz