Local live theater for the undead
Halloween: a time where little chickadees come out in their cute costumes begging for candy, and a time where adults have an excuse to dress provocatively and consume large sums of alcohol. It’s also a celebration for the unusual and the dead, a time when the curtain between the real and unreal is drawn back and we look for monsters, psychopaths, aliens and vampires.
And it’s a great time to check out some entertaining, spooky and quirky theater action. There are plenty of options for those who’d like to get their Halloween freak on from the orchestra seats.
The most famous of all vampires gets the full stage-and-screen treatment up in Placerville, where Imagination Theatre has taken on Dracula. They’ve teamed up with local filmmakers to put together a genre-busting version of the play, one in which the actors step offstage and into a fully realized film. The combination is both extraordinarily risky and inventive, and runs through the weekend at the El Dorado County Fairgrounds, with two shows on both Saturday and Sunday.
And the original vampire, Lord Ruthven (David Garrison) takes a young gambler (Nicholas Massa) under his wing—or cape—in Chautauqua Playhouse’s production of The Vampyre, which runs through November 14. Unless you’ve really got a thing for long, dark journeys, this is probably not the best place to find Halloween fun, though. It’s a nice try, but the plot lacks substance.
In keeping with the vampire theme—but definitely moving away from tradition—Lambda Players offers a revival of an original local play by Tom Swanner and Matthew Burlingame, Countess Dracula. It’s best described as camp sensibility meets co-ed sexploitation, though the producers prefer “high-camp lesbian comedy.” At a sorority named Kappa Gonna Bitecha, a pair of pledges discover that their housemother, Madame Renfield, is a little strange. Wait until they meet the dean of women’s studies. Recommended for adult audiences, Countess Dracula closes on Saturday, and it’s been selling out, so reserve tickets early if a Sapphic Samhain is in your cards.
For some really risqué fun—involving a “sweet transvestite from transsssssexual Transylvania”—Green Valley Theatre’s production of The Rocky Horror Show is your best bet on the grid. Newly engaged Brad (Aaron Boyer) and Janet (Lauren Miller) get themselves in a jam when their car has a flat tire, and their search for a phone leads them to the castle of Dr. Frank-N-Furter, the aforementioned mad scientist in hose and heels. Along with his minions, Riff Raff (Troy Thomas), Magenta (Rachel Armour), and Columbia (Lindsay Grimes), Frank takes Brad and Janet—and the audience—on a time-warped adventure with dancing, “virgin scum,” singing and lewd remarks. Don’t let the “warp lag” get you down; this show is some of the best Halloween fun you’ll ever have.
And finally, there’s a one-night tradition at Capital Stage, where they’ll do War of the Worlds, a Howard Koch adaptation of the famous H.G. Wells radio play that put parts of America in a panic. It’s at 7 p.m. on Halloween, and serves as a fundraiser for the edgiest of Sacramento’s professional companies.