Not every local theater gets into the scary spirit of Halloween, but the ones that do wear their hearts on their sleeves — and possibly other misplaced body parts, as well. The following stage plays offer spooky tricks and some amusing treats in the buildup to All Hallow’s Eve.
You could forgive Serenbe Playhouse for getting a big head — or even losing it — following the success of “The Sleepy Hollow Experience.” The adaptation of Washington Irving’s classic short story “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” has been a runaway hit since its 2013 debut. The open-air show regularly sells out, with 15,000 brave souls expected to attend this year.
The first production took place in and around actual stables, but in subsequent years, the show has expanded at the Serenbe community about 40 miles south of Atlanta.
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“The scale of the production has grown, but the feel of the show has stayed the same,” says director of production Joel Coady. “We’ve grown to a bigger venue where we can accommodate more guests, but the rawness and authenticity of the experience has stayed the same.”
Artistic director Brian Clowdus, who has adapted a new script with additional music for 2018, says, “The Horseman now rides in the middle of a field buried deep in the woods in a skeletal Tarrytown, accommodating audiences of nearly 200 for each performance.”
In the immersive experience, audience members follow the cast, including Jordan Patrick as Ichabod Crane, through winding trails. The expanded intermission features fall games, a full bar and seasonal treats, and the company offers family-friendly daytime productions on Saturday and Sunday afternoons.
“Without giving anything away, definitely the end is the scariest moment,” Coady says. “When the Headless Horseman is revealed at the end of the bridge, it’s chilling — an image that will ride with you on your way home.”
Sept. 26-Nov. 4. $13-$48. The Horseman’s Meadow, Serenbe Playhouse, 9110 Selborne Lane, Palmetto. 770-463-1110, serenbeplayhouse.com.
The glassy eyes, the inhuman proportions — it doesn’t take much to turn a puppet from cute to scary. The Center for Puppetry Arts’ “The Ghastly Dreadfuls,” created by Jon Ludwig and Jason Hines, goes for the throat as a showcase for the comedic and uncanny possibilities of puppets.
Hosted by a band of wisecracking musical ghosts, “The Ghastly Dreadfuls” has been staged intermittently since 2006. With 15 wildly creative short stories and seasonally appropriate musical numbers, the show serves as a kind of album that allows different shorts to be reanimated.
Returning in 2018 after a few years’ hiatus include “Le Petit Vampyr,” a French burlesque about a diminutive bloodsucker, and “The Deep End of the Pool,” a thoroughly chilling and disturbing tale involving a haunted swimming pool. Meanwhile, the likes of “Danse Macabre,” in which skeletal marionettes make merry in a cemetery, are perennial favorites. A must-see show for grown-ups who’ve never been to the Center for Puppetry Arts, “The Ghastly Dreadfuls” will hopefully never die.
Oct. 10-27. $25 ($18.50 for members). Center for Puppetry Arts, Downstairs Theater, 1404 Spring St., Atlanta. 404-873-3391, puppet.org.
Actor’s Express describes its new show “Reykjavik” as eight interconnected vignettes — including tourists, lovers, siblings and birds — in Iceland’s capital city. Veteran audiences know to expect more from playwright Steve Yockey, a former Atlantan with strong ties to local theaters and a penchant for dark themes. Yockey’s previous plays have shown modern people grappling with contemporary problems, while suspecting that a serial killer or a sea monster might lurk just off stage.
“I was excited to schedule ‘Reykjavik’ for this time of year,” says Actor’s Express artistic director Freddie Ashley. “It is spooky, atmospheric and suspenseful. And with all the supernatural elements in the play as well, it seemed to us like a perfect fit for the Halloween season.”
Directed by Melissa Foulger, “Reykjavik’s” cast includes Eliana Marianes, Michael Vine and previous Yockey actor Joe Sykes.
Oct. 27-Nov. 18. $20-$35. Actor’s Express, 887 W. Marietta St, Suite J-107, Atlanta. 404-607-7469, actors-express.com.
Of all the popular films adapted to stage musicals, few seem more unlikely than Sam Raimi’s “The Evil Dead,” which depicts paranormal activity in a cabin in the woods. “Evil Dead: The Musical” by George Reinblatt cranks up the comedy for an experience compared to “The Rocky Horror Show,” only with more blood and chainsaws.
For its third year staging the show, Marietta’s Out of Box Theatre casts new actors and alters the sets and costumes. “The same campy, goofy attitude remains,” says director Zip Rampy. “Even though the show definitely leans towards comedy, we have a few spooky jump scares planned. Of course, for the full experience, we still have the splatter zone seating.”
Oct. 5-20. $37-$47. Out of Box Theatre, 585 Cobb Parkway, Marietta. 678-653-4605, outofboxtheatre.com.
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