Halloween season brings theatrical thrills and chills for fall
The weeks leading up to Halloween bring a mix of horror classics, psychological thrillers and seasonal spoofs to city and suburban stages.
Among Halloween-themed productions on stage this fall are three inspired by Edgar Allan Poe's writing, three adapted from Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein" and one tuner about a bloodthirsty houseplant.
Keep in mind, not all of these shows are suitable for young theatergoers and some may unsettle sensitive audience members. Here's a look at a few offering thrills and chills for fall.
Seymour (Will Lidke) feeds the flesh-eating plant Audrey II in "Little Shop of Horrors" at Drury Lane Theatre in Oakbrook Terrace.
- Courtesy of Brett Beiner Photography/Drury Lane Theatre
"Little Shop of Horrors"
A sickly little plant blossoms into a man-eating monster that bedevils the kindly floral shop employee who nurtured it in "Little Shop of Horrors," the 1982 musical by Alan Menken and Howard Ashman. Drury Lane Theatre's revival stars Will Lidke as the nervous Seymour in director/choreographer Scott Calcagno's production.
Info: Through Oct. 28, at 100 Drury Lane Oakbrook Terrace. $45-$65. (630) 530-0111 or drurylanetheatre.com
Anna Sonneville plays Victoria, creator of The Creature, in Lifeline Theatre's premiere of "Frankenstein," adapted from Mary Shelley's novel by ensemble member Robert Kauzlaric.
- Courtesy of Suzanne Plunkett
Lifeline Theatre ensemble member Robert Kauzlaric recasts the central character in Mary Shelley's gothic novel as a woman whose grief over her beloved father's death inspires an experiment that ends disastrously with the creation of the Creature (courtesy of puppet designer Cynthia Von Orthal). Lifeline also presents the family-friendly "Bunnicula," a musical adaptation of the Deborah and James Howe book about a family who adopts a rabbit that turns out to be a supernatural menace draining vegetables of their juices.
Info: "Frankenstein" runs through Oct. 28, at 6912 N. Glenwood Ave., Chicago. $20-$40. "Bunnicula" runs Oct. 20-Nov. 25. $15. (773) 761-4477 or lifelinetheatre.com
The Annoyance Theatre sends up slasher films such as "Halloween" and "Friday the 13th" in this long-running, adults-only production.
Info: Through Oct. 31, at 851 W. Belmont Ave., Chicago. $15, $20. (773) 697-9603 or theannoyance.com
"The Witch of Edmonton," a 17th century play about a woman who was shunned by her neighbors and sells her soul to the devil, inspired Writers Theatre's "Witch." In Jen Silverman's modern version, the woman (Audrey Francis) is an outsider who stands her ground while two young men make a devil's bargain. Libertyville native Marti Lyons directs.
Info: Through Dec. 16, at 325 Tudor Court, Glencoe. $35-$80. (847) 242-6000 or writerstheatre.org
"The Madness of Edgar Allan Poe: A Love Story"
Adapted by First Folio Theatre executive director David Rice from Edgar Allan Poe's poems and stories, "The Madness of Edgar Allan Poe" examines the writer's profound despair over the loss of his beloved wife Virginia. Skyler Schrempp directs this combination biography and literature survey, which unfolds in various rooms of the Mayslake Peabody Estate.
Info: Oct 3-Nov. 4, at 1717 31st St., Oak Brook. $25-$44. (630) 986-8067 or firstfolio.org
Strawdog Theatre will stage the Halloween-themed "Masque Macabre" with Terry Bell, left, and Andrew Bailes.
- Courtesy of Jon Cole
Edgar Allan Poe's stories also inspired Strawdog Theatre Company's immersive "modern nightmare," in which more than a dozen tales play out simultaneously during a party for a "bad boy" entrepreneur.
Info: Oct. 4-31, at 1802 W. Berenice Ave., Chicago. $30-$50. (773) 644-1380 or strawdog.org
"Les Innocents/The Innocents"
A thriller inspired by a 1897 concert that took place in the Catacombs of Paris, "Les Innocents" is an "immersive queer thriller" about a composer encountering ghosts who create chaos. Ann Kreitman created and directs (re) discover theatre's adults-only premiere.
Info: Oct. 7-Nov. 4, at Preston Bradley Center, 941 W. Lawrence Ave., Chicago. $30. See rediscovertheatre.com
"Neil Tobin Necromancer: Near Death Experience"
Writer/producer/performer Neil Tobin returns to the historic Rosehill Cemetery to perform interactive, site-specific magic shows.
Info: Select days Oct. 7-Nov. 4, at May Chapel at 5800 N. Ravenswood Ave., Chicago. $25-$30. See neardeathx.com
The Creepazoid is one of the puppet creatures featured in Rough House Theatre's "The Walls of Harrow House."
- Courtesy of Rough House Theatre
"The Walls of Harrow House"
Rough House Theatre incorporates puppetry in this combination haunted house and theatrical performance which unfolds in the infamous home of the fictional reclusive architect Milton Harrow.
Info: Oct. 10-Nov. 3, at the Chopin Theatre, 1543 W. Division St., Chicago. $15, $25. See roughhousetheater.com
Nick Sandys and Hoffman Estates native Greg Matthew Anderson co-star as the Creator and Victor in Remy Bumppo Theatre's production of Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein."
- Courtesy of Joe Mazza/Brave Lux
Remy Bumppo Theatre opens its season with Nick Dear's adaptation of the classic tale. The second of four adaptations scheduled to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the novel's publication, Remy Bumppo's adaptation -- told from the Creature's perspective -- raises questions about scientific responsibility, parental neglect and the nature of good and evil. Hoffman Estates native Greg Matthew Anderson and Nick Sandys alternate the roles of Victor Frankenstein and the Creature.
Info: Oct. 11-Nov. 11, at Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont Ave., Chicago. $37.75-$62.75. (773) 975-8150 or remybumppo.org
Steel Beam Theatre revives Conor McPherson's chilling drama about three men at a rural bar in Ireland who swap ghost stories in an effort to impress a young newcomer, who has a pretty scary tale of her own to share.
Info: Oct. 12-Nov. 4, at 111 W. Main St., St. Charles. $22-$28. (630) 587-8521 or steelbeamtheatre.com
"The Golden Girls: Bea Afraid -- The Halloween Edition"
Hell in a Handbag Productions presents a seasonal version of its popular, drag-inspired "Golden Girls" sendup. "Bea Afraid" finds the friends consulting a priest about Sophia's increasingly bizarre behavior.
Info: Oct. 13-Nov. 3, at Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont Ave., Chicago. $25, $29. (773) 327-5252 or handbagproductions.org
Theatre Above the Law opens its third season with Christina Lepri's "Poe," in which Edgar Allan Poe's most unforgettable characters converge at a cabaret to share their creator's classic tales.
Info: Oct. 19-Nov. 11, at 1439 W. Jarvis Ave., Chicago. $22. (773) 655-7197 or theatreatl.org
The Magic Lounge
In addition to performances by "anti-conjurer" (and former Schaumburg resident) Dan Sperry (Oct. 11-13) and artist-in-residence and "Fool Us" winner David Parr ("Cabinet of Curiosities" every Wednesday), the Chicago Magic Lounge hosts an evening of magic, mystery and the macabre for ages 21 and older featuring magicians Parr and Sean Masterson and host Ed Furman.
Info: The Chicago Magic Lounge is at 5050 N. Clark St., Chicago. The Halloween Family Show is 2 p.m. Oct. 28. $15 (ages 5-16), $25. The Halloween Show (21 and older) is 7:30 p.m. Oct. 31. $39.50-$54.50. (312) 366-4500 or chicagomagiclounge.com
The multimedia ensemble Manual Cinema and Court Theatre collaborate on the world premiere of "Frankenstein," which combines the author's biography and her horror tale to examine how family, communication and education shape an individual. Devised by Drew Dir, Sarah Fornace and Julia Miller, the production incorporates puppetry, cinematic techniques and music.
Info: Nov. 1-Dec. 2, at 5535 S. Ellis Ave., Chicago. $38-$56. (773) 753-4472 or courttheatre.org
"The Woman in Black"
Director Robin Herford recreates his staging for the original 1989 London production of "The Woman in Black," a two-hander adapted by Stephen Mallatratt from Susan Hill's ghost story. It's about a lawyer who hires an actor to help him dramatize his experience with a ghostly woman who haunts a remote English town.
Info: Nov. 15-Feb. 17, 2019, at 1641 N. Halsted St., Chicago. $49-$69. (312) 988-9000 or theroyalgeorgetheatre.com