There are several horror-themed theater productions still on the boards after beginning their runs during the Halloween season. Most of these will end in the next week or two, but some last later into November. Fright fans looking for an antidote to Halloween withdrawal should consider checking these out.
Note: Unless otherwise noted, the descriptions of the plays are borrowed from theatre websites, as we have yet to review any of these productions.
Dracula: Blood Before the Dawn
LOFT Ensemble-Sherman Oaks
13442 Ventura Blvd Sherman Oaks
While Dracula: Blood Before the Dawn is an homage to Bram Stoker’s nonlinear gothic novel, this adaptation takes its own shape as it unwinds the horror of honored and inspired characters, testing their courage, morality and sanity. Blood Before the Dawn introduces the title character as a human infiltrator, able to move about the Victorian world, observing as a philosopher, scientist and of course, predator. Set against the dark backdrop of England’s Industrial revolution, and filtered through the lives of the privileged and the insane, this story is an adventure of historical fiction, full of danger, secrets, horror, and romance.
Crown City Theatre Company
11031 Camarillo Street North Hollywood
Box Office: 818-745-8527
Before “The Raven” first cried “Nevermore!” or the beating of “The Tell-Tale Heart” grew “louder! louder! louder!” from beneath the floorboards, Edgar Allan Poe was little more than a man with an overactive imagination. Or was he? A fictional psychological thriller about the life of the greatest horror writer of all time, Nevermore offers a clever twist on Poe’s backstory, putting the budding writer smack-dab at the center of one of his own macabre tales. Once upon a midnight dreary, a young Poe visits the crumbling estate of an old childhood friend. But he soon finds himself caught in a web of secrets and lies from the past that seem to foreshadow his future stories — and threaten to end his life! Don’t miss this spine-tingling Halloween treat presented on The Belfry Stage at The Crown in North Hollywood.
Note: The Crown City Theatre’s website is woefully out of date, so look for info on this production here.
2nd Stage Theatre
6500 Santa Monica Blvd. Los Angeles
Screamers focuses on a journalist who begins to develop an obsession with a series of seemingly random events, all occurring in the style of classic urban legends. One case in particular, that of a missing teenage girl, catches his attention and he reaches out to the girl’s father to hear his story. This journalist begins to believe that the missing girl may be the key to everything that has been happening and sets out to help her father find her, at any cost.
Get more info here.
Spindle City: The Lizzie Borden Musical
Secret Rose Theatre
11246 Magnolia Blvd North Hollywood
Remaining Dates: November 4-5
Spindle City: The Lizzie Borden Musical makes its world premiere in the NoHo arts district of Los Angeles. Created by Katrina Wood, who produces along with Barney D Neeleym “Spindle City” stars Emily Bridges as Lizzie Borden, the Massachusetts woman infamous for the 1892 trial in which she was accused of ax-murdering her father and stepmother. Wood, who wrote the book, lyrics and music, says the work “is a departure from anything you may think you know about Lizzie. This tale is not only about the Borden family but also about the mill workers who came from all parts of the world” to Fall River, Massachusetts, in the late 1800s. “The millworkers were sorely underpaid and overworked. Their children — not unlike in Dickens tales — were also working in the mills, much to Lizzie’s fury. She fights for their right to be children and to be educated,” Wood says.
Of course, this is also a tale of old-school American horror, so be prepared for bloodshed. The production is “PG-13” and children under the age of 10 will not be admitted.
As for the Borden murders, Wood tackles “unanswered questions about what crimes were really committed and who in fact were the real perpetrators” if not Lizzie.
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
Long Beach Playhouse
5021 E. Anaheim St. Long Beach
Stephen Sondheim’s brilliant foray into bloodlust and revenge is being given an intimately terrifying and darkly humorous re-telling in the Studio Theatre. The infamous tale of Sweeney Todd, an unjustly exiled barber, follows his blood-soaked return to 19th century London as he seeks vengeance against the lecherous judge who framed him, ravaged his young wife, and keeps his daughter a virtual prisoner in his house. Close shaves, razor-sharp wit, and unsettlingly delicious meat pies (with a secret ingredient), combined with Sondheim’s brilliant and disturbingly beautiful music, will delight even the faint of heart.
Music and Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, Book by Hugh Wheeler. Director: Sean F. Gray. Music Director: Stephen Olear. Choreographer: Halley Hardy.
The Turn of the Screw
Actors Co-op Theatre
1760 N. Gower Street Hollywood
Our Comments: The Actors Co-op Crossley Theatre stages another production of Jeffrey Hatcher’s adaptation of Henry James’ ambiguous ghost story The Turn of the Screw. The clever strategy employed is to present the story without settings or props, with a cast of two, one playing the governess and the other playing all the other characters. Since James’s novel is told entirely by the unnamed governess, the reader sees only her point of view of view; by not showing us anything, but relying only on the dialogue, the play puts the audience in a similar situation.
Although we have not seen the current production, we did see a previous staging of Hatcher’s play in Venice ten years ago. Though not fully satisfying, the production was certainly novel enough to sustain interest. Reviews for the current production give it high praise, so we are hoping to check it out for ourselves soon.