Where better to spend the infamous All Ghoul's Night than in a darkened theatre awaiting to get the bejeezus scared out of you? For tips on what to see on that Hallowed Eve, here's Playbill On-Line's annual Halloween Round-Up.
New Yorkers can still get spooked by The Phantom of the Opera on Broadway, or experience the dread of sinking on the Titanic, or endure the sordid rise of Nazism in Cabaret, but for even creepier crawlies theatregoers might want to look downtown.
Why not begin the festivities at Off Broadway's The Mystery of Irma Vep, A Penny Dreadful. A cult-classic from the King of Camp, Charles Ludlum's farce concerns the unknown fate of the title character, once mistress of the Manor House but since the victim of an untimely and mysterious death. The show sends up such gothic classics as "Rebecca," "Wuthering Heights", and "The Mummy's Curse" and stars original cast member Everett Quinton. During intermission for the Halloween night show, audiences will be treated to a wine tasting (of Vampire Merlot) and a pair of official Irma Vep werewolf teeth.
Downtown's Theatre for the New City will host their 22nd annual Village Halloween Costume Ball. 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, featuring downtown favorite's Peter Schuman's Bread and Puppet Theatre, as part of the Costume Ball. More than 1,400 participants are expected for this year's gala, starting at 5 PM outdoors and moving into the East 10th St. Venue at 7:30 PM. The indoor festivities include featured performers (Penny Arcade, Stuart Sherman, Hot Peaches), puppet shows, future telling, dance orchestras, and environmental installations.
The big moment comes at 11 PM when costumes will be judged by such theatre-celebrity panelists as Maria Irene Fornes, Lee Breuer, Everett Quinton and Judith Malina. Not to be outdone by her cross-town rival, La MaMa's Ellen Stewart has booked her downtown venue with Scott Baker's Geek Circus, where Carnival Sideshows cross with Grand Guignol. Baker, a former cast member of Broadway's Oh! Calcutta!, will pound 30 nails into his skull, eat razor blades, condoms and light bulbs -- and if you're very special that night, he may bite the head off a live chicken.
But if watching someone assault a live fowl isn't your bag baby, you may want to check out The Acting Company's Annual Halloween Gala, where numerous Broadway and Off-Broadway designers have banded together to raise funds for America's only professional, national-touring classical rep theatre company. Martin Izquierdo will decorate the Copa with the numerous ghosts who show up in Shakespeare's plays. Shakespeare character drawings will adorn each table by award winning designers including: Desmond Heeley, Martin Pakledinaz, Jared Aswegan, David James, Ann Hould-Ward, Jeanne Button, Smaranda Branescu, Martha Halley, Paul Tazewell, Jamie Scott, Judy Dolan, Laura Crow, Theoni Aldredge and John David Ridge. Stephen DeRosa (Irma Vep) will host the event with special guest and honoree Burt Reynolds making an appearance.
NY's Piano Store is the scene of what's described as a "new Halloween burlesque" musical, Frankenweiner. This tale of madness, lust and monsters runs Oct. 22 - 31 with an 8 PM and midnight showing on Halloween. For reservations call (212) 971-1016.
Just a little uptown (on 38th Street) from Frankenweiner is Frankenstein in Love by noted Horror-film director Clive Barker. In this version, the infamous doctor finds a remote Latin American country plagued by war and revolution to practice his experiments. Waterloo Bridge Theatre Company's production runs Oct. 22 - Nov. 15. For reservations call (212) 330 8879.
Upstate New York - Cazenovia, has the new musical in development by the Romance/Romance team -- Barry Harman and Keith Herrmann, called The Haunted Hotel. A musical ghost story, based on a novella by Wilkie Collins, it's about a beautiful countess whose new husband mysteriously dies during their honeymoon. The production runs Oct. 30 - Nov. 8. For reservations call (315) 655-STARR.
If this Halloween doesn't find you in a New York State of Mind, across the river in the scariest state of all -- New Jersey -- the 12 Miles West Theatre Company in Montclair is producing Ghost Stories adapted from tales by best-selling horrorist Stephen King. The production, which features an excerpt from King's "Pet Sematary," runs Oct. 29 - Nov. 21. For reservations call (973) 746-7181.
If New Jersey is a little too far to drive for your Halloween dose of Stephen King, the capital of Witch Hunting -- Salem, Massachusetts has an adaptation of King's thriller Misery. The production, by The Delvina Theatre Company, runs Oct. 29 - Nov. 7. For reservations call (781) 643 9993.
Even more traditionally, the Actors Theatre Of Louisville are presenting their fourth annual production of Dracula, Sept. 29 - Oct. 31. T. Ryder Smith stars as the bloodthirsty count in this adaptation of Bram Stoker's novel by Hamilton Deane and John L. Balderston. The show also features William McNulty as Renfield and Adale O'Brien as a female Van Helsing. For more information call (502) 584-1205.
And, finally, what would Halloween be without some theatre doing the cult-classic The Rocky Horror Show. New Hampshire's Seacoast Repertory is doing the "Time Warp Again" -- reviving the hit show from this past summer for two special midnight performances, Oct. 30 & 31. If you don't already know, Rocky Horror tells the story of the All American Brad and Janet who stumble across a strange castle inhabited by a cross-dressing alien named Frank N'Furter. For reservations to the live event, call (603) 433-4472.
So remember kids, don't eat candy if the wrapper's already open; and parents, we know it's tempting, but fruit just doesn't count as a "treat." Seriously, we hope whatever theatre event you choose will be a treat, and all of us at Playbill On-Line wish you a happy and safe Halloween.
-- By Sean McGrath