As a person who is openly obsessed with all things dark, creepy, and scary, I begin thinking about Halloween in about August. But now that it is actually October, I think it's generally acceptable by most people to begin preparations for the big day. And what better way to get in the spirit than to jump in feet first and see a live theatre show? Almost anywhere you go, there are offerings ranging from tame and campy to disturbing and downright terrifying. Check out this list for some suggestions on how to kick off the Halloween season right.
1. Little Shop of Horrors - What's better than a story about a man-eating plant from outer space? A musical about a man-eating plant from outer space.
2. Bat Boy - The Musical - Straight from the tabloids, this is the story of a young man whose deformities bring to question just where he came from.
3. Frankenstein - The stage version of Mary Shelley's essential gothic tale presents the tortured scientist and his abominable creation in all their glory.
4. The Toxic Avenger - The most unlikely of superheroes: a rockin', radioactive, green, slimy sewer dude.
5. Sweeney Todd - A masterpiece by the great Stephen Sondheim, the tale of a demonic barber whose clients are all part of his deliciously evil plan.
6. Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark - Exploring the darker side of Spidey with a haunting score by Bono and The Edge of U2, this musical is bigger than life.
7. Wicked - It's a musical about witches. Need I say more?
8. Faust - The opera based on Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's tragic tale of temptation and corruption captures the devilish nature in a score by Charles Gounod.
9. Assassins - A musical that uses the form of a carnival game to tell the stories of famous people who have killed or attempted to kill US Presidents-- twisted!
10. The Rocky Horror Show - The essential Halloween musical, this one is performed all through October and frequently presented at midnight shows.
11. Carrie - The Musical - Based on the best-selling novel by Stephen King, this musical has been referred to as one of Broadway's biggest flops, but a revised version has been making the rounds and it's just as disturbing.
12. Ghost Brothers of Darkland County - Stephen King wrote a musical. And the music is by John Mellencamp. Go see it.
13. Dracula - A true classic monster story. I'm not sure he actually ever says "I vant to sahck your blahd," but it's OK--I think that might undermine the suspense...
14. Into the Woods - On its face, it seems like a collection of fairy tale stories, but it is actually much, much darker, revealing essential truths about the human condition. Happily ever after? Probably not.
15. Young Frankenstein - If you don't like Mel Brooks' classic movie Young Frankenstein, you probably can't admit it because everyone else would judge you. But you probably do. The humor is punched up with catchy songs in this stage adaptation.
16. Hedwig and the Angry Inch - Achieving a cult following much like Rocky Horror, the campy nature of this show lends itself perfectly to costume creativity.
17. The Mousetrap - This murder mystery play by Agatha Christie has the longest initial run of any play in history, having played over 25,000 performances in London's West End. They don't make 'em like this anymore.
18. The Flying Dutchman - Richard Wagner wrote more than The Ring Cycle. His opera about the famed ghost ship exposes the secret dangers of the stormy seas.
19. Sleep No More - An immersive theatre experience in which audience members wear masks and discover for themselves the events of Shakespeare's Macbeth throughout an old hotel? Add trick-or-treating and this is pretty much just Halloween.
20. The 39 Steps - Sending up the classic films of the master of suspense himself, Alfred Hitchcock, this play is a delightful parody that keeps audiences engaged.
21. Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson - A chillingly dark look at a particularly violent president, Bloody Bloody also incorporates comedy and rock music to provide a much-needed respite from all the bloodshed.
22. Macbeth - Three witches, a couple bent on seizing power through whatever means necessary, and creeping madness make this the best Shakespeare pick for Halloween.
23. Ghost - The Musical - Based on the classic romantic film, the musical captures the otherworldly essence of Molly and Sam's heartbreaking story.
24. Jekyll & Hyde - Frank Wildhorn's musical tale following one of the best-known monster stories of all time, Jekyll & Hyde has a little something for everyone: crazy singing, romance, and violence. Yes.
25. The Secret Garden - The ghostly aura surrounding Misselthwaite Manor sets the mood for this musical. Family secrets, curious children, and a hidden door make for a mysterious experience.
26. Evil Dead - The Musical - Billed as the only musical comedy with a "splatter zone," this one is great if you like gratuitous violence and spurting blood. And who doesn't?
27. The Crucible - Maybe it's because I'm from New England or maybe it's because I'm part of the generation that is OBSESSED with the movie Hocus Pocus, but I can't let a Halloween go by without revisiting the Salem witch trials. And this is a really smart play with allegorical meaning and stuff.
28. The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe - The kiddies love the mythical world of C.S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia, and the films have led to a costume craze: "You guys always go as the witch and the lion. I am SO sick of being the wardrobe..."
29. Cirque du Soleil - Criss Angel: Believe - Perhaps the creepiest of the Cirque du Soleil shows, the illusive Criss Angel deals with a femme fatale, some incredible tricks, and some really unsettling rabbits.
30. The Phantom of the Opera - Andrew Lloyd Webber's long-running musical about a deformed man haunting the Paris Opera and obsessing over a golden-voiced ingenue is the perfect Halloween show.
31. The Addams Family - The quintessential creepy, kooky, altogether ooky family is part of my celebrations every year, and the stage musical brings you right to their doorstep. Snap, snap.