Remember when Halloween was a holiday for children? Well, forget it–children’s shows are way outnumbered among this year’s offerings about ghosties and ghoulies and long-legged beasties and things that go bump in the night. But there’s plenty for the spookily-inclined theatergoer.
Kelly says go to...
The Strange Tree Group demonstrates that it’s possible to traffic in ghosts without alluding to Halloween or descending to juvenalia. Its The Spirit Play might almost be described as a serious re-imagining of Blithe Spirit, opening with a seance that’s supposed to be a fraud and a joke but mysteriously produces a genuine connection with the Beyond. Like all the Group’s work, The Spirit Play is both charming and thought-provoking, featuring marvelous original music, a multi-layered text, and several startling effects. The performances are lovely and the evocation of 1870s Chicago in costume, setting and speech is superb. Thursday through Sunday at the DCA Storefront Theater, 66 East Randolph, through November 6. Tickets are $20, but only $15 on Thursdays.
Likewise not directly about Halloween but in keeping with the spirit of the season is The Plagiarists’ Caesura: A Butchery, which somehow throws together Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, Voltaire’s La Mort du Caesar, and Eliot’s Murder in the Cathedral with a whole bunch of other violent and creepy sources–and nonetheless claims to be funny. Fridays and Saturdays through November 5 at RPB Rorschack, 4001 N. Ravenswood, $15.
The Cornservatory, too, seems to think horror is funny–or at least that its offering, Nightmares on Lincoln Avenue 3: Calculated Ramblings of an Unsound Mind, is both. A series of funny-scary sketches use Chicago history as their bases, so expect a visit from the Devil in the White City. (To give this particular devil his due, the Cornservatory is also offering a Halloween show for kids, Bobby Corn and the History of Da Nile.) Nightmares . . . runs Wednesday through Saturday, and on Halloween weekend will run Sunday and Monday, too. 8 p.m. at the Cornservatory, 4210 N. Lincoln Avenue, tickets $10-$15.
Isn't there anything else for the kids? There is. But though it’s sponsored by a theater, it’s not actually a show. On Saturday afternoon, October 29, Raven Theatre will present Boo Haha!, its “first annual Fall Family Festival,” featuring face-painting, a parade and other family-friendly activities–but no performance. Still it’s worth checking out, especially as admission is FREE. From 2 to 5 p.m. at the Raven, 6157 North Clark Street; children must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.
And Jonathan suggests...
Yeah, right. Kelly says Halloween isn’t for kids anymore, but she doesn’t list the REALLY adult shows. Of course, I always go where angels fear to tread.
Leave it to the voluptuaries and ecdysiasts of Off-Off-Broadzway to come up with a burlesque-inspired Halloween sketch comedy musical revue, with the tasteful title of Trick or Teets, a title which suggests milk-based sweets. It’s being performed Wednesdays only, but with a Halloween night show as well, at Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont; 773-327-5252; $20.
Denizens of the South Loop may have walked by the old Harrison Hotel many, many times and been creeped out by thoughts of the horrors occurring within its increasingly seedy walls. But why leaves the details to your imagination when you can catch Between the Shadow and the Wall, set in the Harrison Hotel? This world premiere Halloween play, written and directed by Jamie-Lee Wise, concerns a scientist with contact lenses that blind the wearer to everything false. What he’s doing at the Harrison, the people he meets, and why anyone would be after his lenses is the stuff of psychological thrillers, which this play is. Between the Shadow and the Wall runs through Nov. 13 at the Athenaeum Theatre, 2930 N. Southport; 773-935-6860; $22-$27.
Of course, Halloween wouldn’t be the same without Edgar Allen Poe. Then again, I suppose Halloween wouldn’t be the same without the Catholic Church, but I digress. Poe in Octo is an adaptation by suburban playwright MEH Lewis of several Poe stories for outdoor performances. The show is presented by Citadel Theatre at the Mellody (sic) Farm Nature Preserve in Lake Forest (350 N. Waukegan Road). The hours are family-friendly, assuming your kids are mature enough for Poe (recommended for 10 and older), with 4:30PM shows Thur.-Sat. Poe in Octo runs through Oct. 29; 847-735-8554; $15.
Finally, if you simply haven’t enough imagination or daring for something new and different, such as the above-listed shows, you can fall back on The Rocky Horror Show, offered by the brand-new Underscore Theatre at the Underground Lounge, 952 W. Newport, running Thur.-Sat. at 8PM through Oct. 29, with a special Midnight show on Sunday, Oct. 30 (which means, of course, the show will play on Halloween proper). Tickets at the door for a suggested donation of $18-$25.