Halloween is almost upon us, and while you're gearing up to don a costume and assume someone (or something) else's personality for a day, there are folks out there who do that every single night.
Ghastly ghouls and madcap monsters aside, this year's lineup of Halloween-themed plays and musicals proves once again that some theater productions can be genuinely terrifying. (Remember what we said last year about The Woman in Black?)
Whether you're looking to be scared silly or simply entertained, here are eight Dallas-Fort Worth theater productions to get in the Halloween spirit.
Theatre Coppell, through October 20
More funny than frightening, Noel Coward's ghostly love triangle premiered in London in 1941. A novelist engages the services of a medium, hoping her antics will inspire his next book; instead, she accidentally summons the spirit of the man's temperamental ex-wife.
Besides Coward's urbane witticisms, the play provides standout roles for its two lead actresses. Angela Lansbury won a Tony Award for her portrayal of the kooky clairvoyant, Madame Arcati, in the 2009 Broadway revival, while Lauren Bacall, Blythe Danner and even Twiggy have channeled their otherworldly sides as the exasperating Elvira.
Theatre Three, through October 27
Sometimes life provides its own true horror-story villains. In this case, they also sing. Super-composer Stephen Sondheim gathers together our nation's presidential assassins (including those who didn't succeed) in a creepy netherworld so they can compare, complain and encourage each other to complete their historical acts.
The design of Theatre Three's unsettling production is reminiscent of a creepy carnival — evil clown included — while its timely alignment with the 50th anniversary of the JFK assassination adds another deeper level.
The Werewolf of London
Pocket Sandwich Theatre, through November 16
Got your popcorn? Warm up your throwing arm for this spoofy tale of a hairy gentleman who is most definitely not a night owl. Pocket Sandwich encourages vocal audience participation, so if you feel like howling along, well, probably nobody will stop you.
Playing with Fire (After Frankenstein)
L.I.P. Service, October 10-26
A retelling of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein in collaboration with new company 3 Cords Theatre, Fire follows Victor Frankenstein to the North Pole as he searches for his notorious creation. When the two meet, it becomes harder to tell which has become the real monster.
Clue: The Musical
Plaza Theatre Company (through November 9); Runway Theatre (through November 3); Repertory Company Theatre (October 18-27)
Was it Miss Scarlet in the conservatory with the wrench? Or perhaps Colonel Mustard in the dining room with the revolver? The murder scenarios seem endless, especially because there are three productions of the board game-musical running simultaneously in DFW this Halloween season.
Songs like "She Hasn’t Got a Clue" and "Seduction Deduction" add campy fun to the 216 possible endings for each show, which the audience is involved in deciding.
Ghouls & Graveyards
Dallas Children's Theater, October 18-27
Teens — is there anything scarier? We kid, we kid. The youngsters present a collection of spooky literature and folklore, which includes everything from Halloween mainstay Edgar Allan Poe to Texas ghost stories that hit a little closer to home.
El Conde Drácula
The Ochre House, October 22-25
Not much is known about Matthew Posey's newest work other than it's about literature's most seductive bloodsucker, and it's a collaboration with the Dallas Flamenco Festival. Considering past experiences with Posey and his always-inventive, often-provocative original shows, this might be all you need to know.
There are only four performances, and Ochre House only seats 45, so do the math and buy your ticket quickly.
Lakewood Theater, November 2
Last Halloween in London, Polyphonic Spree succumbed to its "Time Warp" urges and performed songs from The Rocky Horror Picture Show. The response was so enthusiastic that venues began clamoring for the pop-rock band — originally from Dallas — to reprise its performance.
This year, the Lakewood Theater is presenting the first Halloween Hootenanny, where the Spree taps into its sweet transvestite side before a midnight showing of the cult classic film.