It’s no secret that San Francisco really, really loves Halloween, so it should be no surprise that there’s a ton of chiller theater all over the Bay Area every October. Some of them are the same creepy classics that we see pretty much every year in one theater or another, such as Dracula (Sonoma’s Silver Moon Theatre), Little Shop of Horrors (Alameda’s Altarena Playhouse) and Sweeney Todd (TheatreWorks in Mountain View). There are at least three productions of Stephen Mallatratt’s The Woman in Black, based on Susan Hill’s 1983 gothic horror novella (Dragon Productions in Redwood City, Marin Onstage in San Rafael, Coastal Rep in Half Moon Bay), which is the second-longest-running play in the history of London’s West End. There’s even a stage version of the kiddie favorite Bunnicula (Peninsula Youth Theatre). Here are a few picks to whet your appetite for blood, brains and other forbidden delights this month.
The Addams Family
Plays through Oct. 19 at El Cerrito's Contra Costa Civic Theatre; Oct. 10 - Nov. 2 at the 6th Street Playhouse in Santa Rosa; and Bay Area Stage performs the play Oct. 17 - Nov. 2 at the Martinez Campbell Theatre and at Vallejo's Empress Theatre.
The Addams Family is best known either as the 1960's TV series or the 1990's feature films about the same lovably ghoulish family. (They were goths before goths were a thing.) But the characters started in the 1930s as a series of single-panel cartoons by Charles Addams in The New Yorker, and that’s the source material for this stage musical with songs by Andrew Lippa (Big Fish) and a book by Jersey Boys combo Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice. Now that the show’s 2010 Broadway run starring Bebe Neuwirth and Nathan Lane has come and gone (with generally poor reviews), the floodgates have opened for local productions, and the region is indeed getting a deluge of them this month. Contra Costa Civic Theatre scored the actual Bay Area premiere to open the venerable El Cerrito community theater’s 55th season. It’s followed close at heels by a production at Santa Rosa’s 6th Street Playhouse, which is also running The Rocky Horror Show in its smaller Studio Theatre at the same time, so the North Bay will have no lack of campy Halloween fun. One week later, Bay Area Stage opens a production at the Martinez Campbell Theatre that subsequently moves to Vallejo’s Empress Theatre in early November. Soon the farthest reaches of the Bay Area will be creepy, kooky and altogether ooky.
Improvised Horror Trio
Improvised Twilight Zone, Oct. 3-24; Zombie Horror Serial, Oct. 4 – 25; Improvised Horror Musical
, Oct. 31 – Nov. 1, BATS Improv (Bayfront Theater, Fort Mason Center, San Francisco)
One of those acronyms that eventually became the official name, BATS originally stood for Bay Area Theatresports, but this month we may as well pretend it stands for... well, bats. San Francisco’s longest-running improv comedy outfit (established 1986), BATS has several shows running at any given time (each one is of course improvised and therefore different every single night). In October all those offerings are on the creepy side. The titles are self-explanatory: every Friday night is Improvised Twilight Zone, a series of short-form vignettes; Saturdays are a Zombie Horror Serial (with an ongoing story made up as it goes along); and on Halloween weekend is an Improvised Horror Musical spawned entirely from audience suggestions.
Shocktoberfest 15: The Bloody Débutante
Oct. 9 – Nov. 22, Thrillpeddlers (The Hypnodrome, 575 10th Street, San Francisco)