Halloween is the most theatrical of American holidays. Every year, people of all ages and from all walks of life put on costumes and makeup and bring the world of make-believe to the streets—and the theater world, for its part, is happy to join the fun with a range of Halloween shows to celebrate the season. We’ve scared up this list of the 13 best horror-themed events, from Off Broadway to way Off-Off Broadway, to help you get in the spirit.
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13 Halloween Theater Events
Young twin siblings wage war with a demoness in this original Halloween musical by Martin P. Robinson, who created the original Audrey II puppet for Little Shop of Horrors. In addition to directing and designing the show, Robinson has written its book; the music is by Sesame Street's Paul Rudolph. Don't bring little kiddies: This show has dark tricks up its sleeve.
Josh Randall and Kristjan Thor's scary Halloween attraction returns to New York for a 10th-anniversary production. Don't even think about bringing a partner—you have to go through it solo, with a protective mask and a flashlight. The descent into darkness involves lots of tight spaces as well as simulated sexual and violent situations. While speaking is not allowed inside, screaming is more than welcome. (Don’t worry, they give you a safe word to use if you need to exit early.)
The Queens company Rude Grooms, which staged The Witch of Edmonton for Halloween last year, now takes a stab at Thomas Middleton and William Rowley’s challengingly constructed Jacobean tragedy, a sordid 1622 tale of unchastity, murder and deception. Audiences are encouraged to dress in costume, and can choose between seeing this immersive production in a speakeasy-ish bar at the Astorian or at the larger Plaxall Gallery.
Directors Austin Pendleton and Peter Bloch give a horror-movie twist to this latest revival of Tennessee Williams's sad 1944 memory play, in which a fading Southern belle takes a toll on her wallflower daughter and secretive son. Expect spooky touches of the surreal.
John Kevin Jones, whose annual performance of A Christmas Carol at the Merchant's House Museum has become something of a local tradition, expands into Halloween territory with this solo performance (directed by Rhonda Dodd) of works by 19th-century scare king Edgar Allan Poe. In a funereal, candlelit parlor, Jones shares "The Tell-Tale Heart," "The Pit and the Pendulum," "The Cask of Amontillado" and, of course, "The Raven."
Equipped with audio headsets and then plunged into total darkness, audiences feel their way through a potentially terrifying series of events in the latest Halloween-ready show by Tim Haskell, the man behind the immersive horror-theater events Nightmare and This Is Real. The plot is inspired by W.W. Jacobs's 1909 ghost story, "The Toll-House."
Jonathan Groff, Tammy Blanchard and Christian Borle star in the latest revival of Alan Menken and Howard Ashman's dark, sweet, tuneful and utterly winsome 1982 horror-camp musical about a flesh-eating plant who makes dreams come true for a lowly flower-shop worker. Michael Mayer directs the feeding frenzy.
Horror-drunk storytelling virtuoso Clay McLeod Chapman gave us a good scare in 2017 when he announced that his brilliant and hyperliterary thriller series, the Pumpkin Pie Show, would be ending after 20 years. Happily, he's had a change of heart—and what kind of horror figure stays dead anyhow? This year, Chapman spins the tale of a mother and daughter burned at the stake for witchcraft but not quite reconciled to staying in the coffin. (Each audience member will receive a free copy of Chapman’s new novel, The Remaking.)
A posssibly mad scientist demonstrates her latest invention—a machine that lets you hear voices from beyond the grave—in this original horror show by EllaRose Chary and Brandon James Gwinn, who curate the monthly alt-musical showcase Tank-aret. Julia Sears directs the premiere.
Punchdrunk’s dark, sleek, gorgeous installation is awe-inspiring in both its size and detail. Silent audience members in creepy white masks are set free in a six-floor labyrinth of wonders, while roving attractive actor-dancers plays out enigmatic scenes inspired by Macbeth and Hitchcock. As is its wont, the show is throwing lavish Halloween parties on October 25, 26 and 31.
Hunger & Thirst Theatre runs up to Halloween with a pair of creepy one-acts: Patricia Lynn's Screwed, a murder story loosely inspired by Henry James's The Turn of the Screw; and Emily Kitchen's fantastical Bottling Dreams of the Tearful Don't-Knower, in which a man searches a haunted forest for a pool of tears.
A dead man rises at his wake to explain the terrors of the afterworld in this immersive show, written and performed by Luke Walker. The musical duo Okapi plays its original score on cello and double bass.
Poseidon Theatre Company, led by director Aaron Salazar, invites audiences to an immersive mystery that investigates the enigmatic 1849 death of horror master Edgar Allan Poe. The show—written by Nate Raven and featuring original music by Manuel Pelayo and Giancarlo Bonfati—is set in 1969 and spans multiple rooms in the retro karaoke warren RPM Underground; food and drinks add to the spooky-festive experience.