Thea-Tricks: A Guide to the Scary Scene at Theatres This Halloween

News   Thea-Tricks: A Guide to the Scary Scene at Theatres This Halloween
It's that eerie time again
when women are really cross-dressed men
When Village vamps turn evil vixens
donning masks of skulls and Nixons
When thirsty vampires lurk about
and haunted hobos all come out
When little kiddies roam the streets
in search of tricks and taintless treats
When everyone makes a scene
Ah yes, this is Halloween.

It's that eerie time again
when women are really cross-dressed men
When Village vamps turn evil vixens
donning masks of skulls and Nixons
When thirsty vampires lurk about
and haunted hobos all come out
When little kiddies roam the streets
in search of tricks and taintless treats
When everyone makes a scene
Ah yes, this is Halloween.

Or as they call it in New York City: Tuesday.

For those who may be a little too old to don the day's apparel or are seeking a little something spooky on the stages of your town, Playbill On Line has compiled a Halloween 'to-Boo-list' or 'Bite-inerary,' or (okay, last one) 'Thea-Trick-al guidebook.'

The Great White Way brings a few haunters to the table this season (Halloween season, that is):

Jekyll & Hyde Frank Wildhorn's adaptation of the Robert Louis Stevenson classic is about a literally two-faced doctor whose evil side is unleashed when he discovers a strange potion. The production, which opened with Robert Cuccioli in the two title roles and recently starred rocker Sebastian Bach, now boasts "Baywatch" beau David Hasselhoff. The musical plays at the Plymouth Theatre, 236 West 45th Street and remember (as Hasselhoff says in the show’s TV commercial), "This is no day at the beach."

The Phantom of the Opera

As the only remaining Andrew Lloyd Webber work on the White Way, the show can also be considered a dying breed. The current five spot on the all-time Broadway long run list, this maniacal musical, about a deformed man who haunts the Paris Opera House and falls in love with an ingenue, is in its 12th year at the Majestic Theatre, 247 West 44th Street.

The Rocky Horror Show

Currently in previews, this Richard O'Brien late October staple (and for cult moviegoers, a year-round staple) stars a casting cornucopia. Dick Cavett, who was in scary movies like "Nightmare on Elm Street 3" and "Beetlejuice" but is probably best known as himself on "The Dick Cavett Show," narrates this production. Other names that fill the cast of this cult classic include Lea DeLaria (On the Town), Joan "I Hate Myself For Loving You" and " I Love Rock N Roll" Jett, Tom Hewitt as "Frank 'N' Furter," and Daphne Rubin-Vega (who still lurks about NYC atop cabs, in ads, of course, for Rent). The show shapes up the Circle in the Square Theatre (Uptown), 1633 Broadway.

Moving to the Off-White Way, Off-Broadway offers two tricky treats that share the same street:

The Gorey Details

Making this light-hearted dark comedy musicale a little eerier is the fact that the author died earlier this year. Known for his playfully morbid stories, illustrator Edward Gorey is the inspiration for this production that adds music and a third dimension to his work. The opus plays at the Century Center for the Performing Arts, 111 East 15th Street.


On the darker side of the street is the follow-up thriller from the creator of The Dying Gaul, Craig Lucas. Kyra Sedgwick and David Strathairn star in his new play, Stranger, as two well... strangers, each with his own dark secret. They meet by chance on a plane and end up sharing the second act in an isolated cabin. The drama plays at the Vineyard Theatre, 108 East 15th Street where the aforementioned Lucas work also played.

Going further away from the Great White Way, you will find a motley crew of shows (which is no different from the rest of the year) playing Off-Off Broadway:

Frankenstein: The Rock Musical

Writer-director William Electric Black brings his rock adaptation of the Mary Shelley classic to the stage. The production runs Oct. 26-Nov. 19 at The Club at La MaMa E.T.C., 74A East 4th Street. For tickets, call (212) 475-7710.

Fuerte Muerte

Teatro Calaveras/ Theatre Skull celebrate the Dia De Los Muertos/ Day of the Dead with this skeleton parade/march with brief stops for ritual theatrical dances that combine the use of masks, costumes, and music. The performances (Oct. 28-31 and Nov. 5) are free and begin at 1 PM at the corner of Avenue A and 14th Street then make their way to Tompkins Square Park, Washington Square Park, Union Square Park, and finally Central Park. For specific times and locations, call (212) 946-2098.

The Head

Playwright William S. Leavengood’s macabre comedy concerns an urbane scientist who also happens to be a disembodied head. And, of course, he is kidnapped by a dwarf, a giant, and a Pakistani mystic. The decapitated comedy is currently running through Dec. 10 at the Chelsea Playhouse, 125 West 22nd Street. Call Ticket Central at (212) 279-4200.

Tiny Ninja Theatre Presents Macbeth

It's got royalty, murder, apparitions, witches and blood, and all on a briefcase-sized stage. This year's FringeNYC Award winner for Innovation and Originality can also be called "The Little Ninjas That Could" as it's been extended thrice. The brainchild of puppeteer-actor Dov Weinstein plays now in its open-ended run at The Present Company Artspace, 196 198 Stanton Street (between Ridge and Attorney). Call (212) 420-8877 for limited space seats.

So I Killed a Few People...

A former ad exec-turned-serial killer uses his last request on Death Row to put on a one-man show about himself. Gary Ruderman directs David Summers in this 1998 FringeNYC comedy which they both wrote. The show, which has been playing since Oct. 3 at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater, 161 West 22nd Street, gets its fatal, er, final performance on Halloween. For tickets, call (212) 366-9176.

Spooky Dog & The Teenage Gang Mysteries

Eric Pilner and Amy Rhodes, creators of Jinkies! The Totally Unauthorized, Partially Improvised, Scooby Doo Mysteries Live On Stage have revamped their 1999 FringeNYC Overall Excellence Award winning play into a legally-correct parody in which Ted, Tiffany, Thelma, Scraggly and their dog Spooky Dog set out in their psychedelic Clue Caravan to rescue their missing celebrity friend. The cartoony caper that is currently playing in an open-ended run at the Kraine Theatre, 85 East 4th Street, has added two special midnight shows on Oct. 27 & 28. For reservations, call (212) 539-7686.

William Shakespeare's Haunted Ship

The Faux-Real Theatre Company take their traditional Haunted House production aboard the Tall Ship Peking at Pier 16 of the South Street Seaport. The Bard's own specter takes the audience on the tour through some of the most menacing moments from his plays. The interactive theatrical voyage runs Oct. 27-31. For times and directions call the Haunted Ship Hotline at (212) 981-8250.

The Witches' Triptych

Drawing on original letters, trial transcripts and death warrants of the 17th Century, Lillian Ann Slugocki pens this play about those who were accused of practicing witchcraft and met with torture and death. Erica Gould directs the production that runs Oct. 28-Dec. 2 at the Wings Theatre, 154 Christopher Street. Reservations can be made by calling (212) 627 2961.

For those who are more in the mood to get all dressed up and strut about, Theater for the New City offers its 24th annual Village Halloween Costume Ball Oct. 31 at its 155 First Avenue locale. Complete with stilt walkers, jugglers, fire eaters, rock bands and a torch light performance of the medieval ritual show "The Red and Black Masque" that begins at 4 PM are only the precursor to the main event. At 11:30 PM on Hallow's Eve, (that's Oct. 31,) the "Monsters and Miracles Costume Parade" begins.

But New York City isn't the only place that hallows this holiday. Across the country thematic theaters present their own demonic demonstrations. Here are a few:


Vampire Virgins from Venus

Hollywood's Hudson Backstage Theatre presents the World Premiere of this Gary McAuley camp musical about well, a wacky group of people. David Gallagan directs this production which is currently running through Nov. 19 at the theatre located at 6537 Santa Monica Boulevard. The box office number is (323) 856-4200.

Shocktoberfest 2000

San Francisco's Thrillpeddlers bring back their annual festival of creepy shows. This year's slate include Daniel Zilber's Brush With Death and Orgy in the Lighthouse, Slumber Party Panic and Relentless Beating performed by Thrillpeddlers’ Barefoot Beauties, and Robert Keefe's Wedding of the Member. Currently running through Oct. 28 at the EXIT Theatre, 156 Eddy Street. Reservations can be made at (415) 820-1627.


Dr. Faustus

Atlanta's New American Shakespeare Tavern opened their season with director Jeffrey Watkins' adaptation of Christopher Marlowe's classic in which the medicine man sells his soul for power, fame and wealth. The production currently running through Oct. 29 at the Tavern, 499 Peachtree Street can be seen by calling (404) 874-5299.



Chicago's Lookingglass Theatre Company transform Franz Kafka's novel, courtesy of an adaptation by Steven Berkoff, to this stageshow that runs Oct. 26-Dec. 3. David Catlin directs the story about a man who wakes up one morning and finds he has become an insect. Tickets to the Lookingglass show at the Ruth Page Center, 1016 North Dearborn can be purchased by calling (773) 477-8088.



The Actors Theatre of Louisville unveiled their special presentation of the Bram Stoker horror tale Oct. 5. Hamilton Dean and John L. Balderston adapted the gothic epic for the stage in this production directed by William McNulty. The show plays through Oct. 29 at The Actors Theatre. For tickets call (502) 584-1205.


Hauntings: A Night of Murder, Mystery and Madness

Philadelphia's Interact Theatre presents readings of scary stories by local writers. Peter C. Smyth's "Strange Tan", Lynne Sharon Schwartz's "Sound is Second Sight", Donna Huston Murray's "Pas de Deux" and Lila Bita's "The Possessed" will be read by professional actors in this theatrical setting. For reservations, call (215) 568-8077.

Wait Until Dark

Bristol's Riverside Theatre puts up the Frederick Knott thriller about a young blind woman who gets trapped in her home with a man who turns out to be a killer. Susan D. Atkinson directs the production running through Oct. 29 at Riverside, 120 Radcliff Street. For tickets call (215) 785-0100.

So come October 31st
When theatres make the best of worst;
We wish you happy Halloween
at home, on stage, and in between.

-- by Ernio Hernandez

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