In the horror genre, less is often more. Contemporary movie directors seem to forget that what is merely suggested, or glimpsed out of the corner of one’s eye, can be far more viscerally frightening than some atrocity that is splattered in the audience’s collective face. The concepts and images that terrify us most tend to be more dreamlike than explicit – because what is explicit lends itself to cool, rational analysis, or even dissection with the merciless scalpel of humor, while the vaguer threats that populate our nightmares slip through our fingers, ever ready to return.
That may account for the recent upsurge of interest in theatrical revivals of the horror and suspense radio plays that troubled the sleep of a couple of generations of Americans in the mid-20th century. Many of us long for not-so-passive entertainment that requires us to bring our own imaginations to the fore. The Halloween season offers plentiful opportunities to exercise our own internal dark sides, and there’s hardly a better place to recapture the atmosphere of a creepy evening gathered around the radio console than a Vaudeville-era theater like Shadowland.
For several years now, the Ellenville venue has been presenting an annual program called Terror at the Mike, in which audio thrillers from the Golden Age of Radio are enacted onstage, with live music and sound effects, the tension occasionally interrupted by a commercial for a local sponsor delivered in 1940s style. The series returns this Saturday with recreations of two vintage episodes from long-running programs that scared the pants off our forebears. The first, “A Friend to Alexander,” concerns a man obsessed by his dreams about Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton. It’s a 1943 episode, originally starring Robert Young and Geraldine Fitzgerald, from the classic series Suspense, which was heard over the CBS Radio Network for 20 years beginning in 1942.
The second play, titled “The Dream,” is about a man who has never dreamed; when he finally does, it is a terrifying experience. First heard in 1938, starring Boris Karloff, it was one of the earliest episodes of Lights Out, written by Arch Oboler.
Directed by Ray Faiola, Terror at the Mike will begin at 8 p.m. on Saturday, October 29 at Shadowland Stages, located at 157 Canal Street in Ellenville. It’s a benefit performance for the non-profit theater, and tickets cost only $15 at the door. For info, call (845) 647-5511 or visit www.shadowlandstages.org.
Be there or be damned
Horror slam at Inquiring Mind in Saugerties this Friday
An evening of horror and mayhem by a bevy of regional writers (some coming out of the horror closet for the first time) – Joe Vadalma, Grady Kane-Horrigan, Steve Lewis, Will Nixon, Jeremiah Horrigan and Vernon Benjamin – will read at a horror slam at the Inquiring Mind Bookstore in Saugerties on Friday, October 28 from 6 to 8:30 p.m.
Joe Vadalma, author of several fantasy and science fiction books, both in print and online, presents a short story about a vampire on trial. Grady Kane-Horrigan, a writer and artist who specializes in visual storytelling, reads from his short story “History Lesson.” Steve Lewis, the author of several hilarious and knowing books of non-fiction, including Fear and Loathing of Boca Raton, reads from his creepy short story, “Mission San Pablo.”
Will Nixon, well-known Woodstock poet and storyteller, reads poems from Love in the City of Grudges inspired by “Night of the Living Dead.” Jeremiah Horrigan, award-winning journalist, copywriter and Huffington Post blogger, “comes out” with a reading from his unfinished tale of horror, “The Patentee.” Vernon Benjamin, historian of the Hudson River Valley and former journalist, also comes out for the first time with an abridgement of his unpublished novella, The New World Werewolf.
Addams Family Musical this weekend at Highland High School
Co-founded by my mother, if she is to be believed, Ninety Miles Off Broadway has been producing a disproportionately high grade of community theater in New Paltz for over 52 years, exploiting the wealth of creative talent that has always been drawn to the weird little college town beneath the cool little mountains. This fall, the venerable company presents the seasonally relevant The Addams Family Musical at the Highland High School Auditorium on Pancake Hollow Road.
This narrative, of course, begins with a series of darkly comic cartoons in The New Yorker. For most people, however, the 1960s television adaptation starring John Astin and Carolyn Jones defines the franchise, though we mustn’t forget that the films starring Raúl Julia and Anjelica Huston did well too. The Addams Family Musical was created in 2010.
This productions stars Virginia Weinman Leitner as Morticia and Paul Crisafi as Gomez. The remaining shows happen on Friday and Saturday, October 28 and 29 at 7 p.m., with a final matinée on Sunday, October 30 at 2 p.m. Tickets cost $18 for adults, $15 for students and seniors and $12 per ticket for groups of ten or more. Tickets may be purchased at the door, online through Brown Paper Tickets or by calling (845) 256-9657.
– John Burdick
Joseph’s Steakhouse in Hyde Park hosts Haunted Halloween Beauty Pageant
For a different type of Halloween experience, the Haunted Halloween Beauty Pageant comedy murder mystery theater at Joseph’s Steakhouse in Hyde Park offers a combination of traditional dinner theater, improv and standup comedy. The show is fully scripted, but audience participation will be enlisted as much as possible.
The doors open on Monday, October 31 at 6:30 p.m. with the show beginning at 7 p.m. Dinner and the show cost $45, exclusive of tax and gratuities. A cash bar will be provided. Advance purchase is recommended.
The plot involves the Miss Ghastly Ghoul beauty pageant, strongly in need of new blood. The show’s host, bloodsucking Barnabas, and witchy producer Hilda have to deal with a cast of characters that include Chucky the judge, talent-challenged Misty, decaying diva Carrie and Freddie, the pageant’s legendary stylist. Someone will be crowned Queen of the Crypt, and someone else will die trying. The audience will be enlisted to solve the mystery of “Who done it?”
Joseph’s Steakhouse is located at 721 Violet Avenue (Route 9-G) in Hyde Park. More info is available by calling (845) 473-2333 or by visiting http://murdercafe.net.
Psychic Pattie Canova headlines Half Moon Theatre dinner shows this weekend at CIA
Wondering what the future holds? The Half Moon Theatre will present three dinner shows featuring spiritual counselor Pattie Canova in Tarot Tales & Psychic Glimpses. Opening night is Friday, October 28 at 7:30 p.m., with two shows on Saturday, October 29 at 5 and 8 p.m.
The evenings are based on Canova’s recent off-Broadway show, Souled Out, in which audience members each choose a tarot card as they arrive and those whose card is chosen receive a response to their questions. Known for her sense of humor and shoot-from-the-hip style, Canova has appeared at the Ars Nova Theater, Nell’s, the Access Theater, the Zipper Factory, the Triad, the Abingdon Theatre Arts Center and Stage Left in New York City. She has been a featured speaker and lecturer at the Rubin Museum of Art, the Cooper Union and the Open Center and appeared on Fox TV’s Sightings and CNN’s America’s Talking.
The Hudson Valley performances will take place at Downstairs at the Marriott, Half Moon’s intimate venue one floor down from the mainstage theater in the Marriott Pavilion at the Culinary Institute of America. Ticket purchase includes a bento box dinner featuring cuisine prepared by the chefs of the CIA. The fall harvest-themed dinners include braised beef brisket, polenta and roasted corn, roasted butternut squash, black quinoa and sage vinaigrette with walnut-crusted baked apple and salted caramel with cinnamon crème fraiche for dessert.
The CIA is located at 1946 Campus Drive, off Route 9 in Hyde Park. More info is at (845) 235-9885 or www.halfmoontheatre.org. Seating is limited to 150. Tickets cost $75.