Our Favorite (Halloween) Things

It’s that time of year where you’ve gotten out your wigs, donned some makeup and have probably imbibed one two many drinks at a pre-Halloween extravaganza. At Acting Up Stage, where it’s musical theatre 24/7, we are spending the day listening to our favorite spooky cast recordings. Share with us your favorite scary musicals, as we share ours with you!

Mitchell: A nebbish florist + a blonde without any self esteem + a man eating plant = one of my favourite musicals ever.
My Halloween itunes mix would not be complete without the Original Cast Recording of Little Shop of Horrors. While I can’t say that horror is my favourite genre, this is one musical that gets it right. It’s hilarious without being campy, creepy without giving you nightmares, and - magically - it is incredibly moving. Who would have thought that a man feeding his girlfriend to a hungry plant would make me cry — but my goodness - it gets me every time. Plus, I never tire of songs like “Somewhere That’s Green,” “Suddenly Seymour,” “Skid Row,” and “The Meek Shall Inherit.” While the 1986 film with Rick Moranis is pretty terrific, they changed the ending of the musical to make it a feel good “Hollywood” ending - the good guys win and the plant is destroyed. So for a far more chilling resolution to the story, stick with the Broadway version, or — for your Halloween pleasure — check out the originally filmed ending for the movie (which stuck to the Broadway storyline) before the producers went for the happier ending:

Thomas: My favourite scary musical is not exactly “scary” but it does have a ghost: Ghost The Musical! Some people (and most critics) thought the show was scary bad but the show was my guilty pleasure of the season (I saw it twice). I shed more tears watching this show than perhaps any other show I’ve seen (even Miss Saigon and boy did I cry during that). The score has so many fantastic numbers and some standout performances (notably Da’vine Joy Randolph as Oda Mae Brown) but was crippled by heavy handed staging and some brutally corny numbers. Watch out for my black-box revival in 2024!

Paul: Sweeney Todd holds a special place in my heart for a couple of reasons: a) I love all things horror, and b) it was the first Broadway show I’d ever seen. First up, horror is one of my guilty pleasures. I love the genre and I love being scared. Slashe’s are also at the top my list, as my all too often logic geared brain can’t always wrap itself around ghosts and spirits enough to be to be truly scared. This brings me to Sweeney. The slasher nature of the story, coupled with Mr. Todd’s die hard need for revenge gets me every time. The trust Todd instills in his victims also makes me uncomfortable. To throw your trust into someone who uses a blade on your face and neck, only to have him betray that trust turns the mundane into the terrifying. Secondly, it’s hard to forget your first Broadway show. Even though I was dead beat after not sleeping a wink on the overnight Greyhound bus, my friends and I headed straight for the theatre to claim a couple of rush tickets each.

It’s also pretty hard to beat Patti LuPone in the role of Mrs. Lovett.

Nathaniel: I love every single musical mentioned above (yes, Thomas, even Ghost!) but I’ve got to say my favorite Halloween themed musical isn’t really a musical at all - well, not yet, but IT SHOULD BE! Hocus Pocus is the paradigm of 90′s musical camp. It’s got drag (because if winky self-awareness of Bette, Kathy and Sarah as the Sanderson Sisters isn’t the best witch “drag” you’ve ever seen, I dare you to find a better example); it’s got an animatronic cat who talks (and let’s remember folks, this is pre-Sabrina, The Teenage Witch); and it’s got one of the best gosh-darn musical numbers in all film history. So why the heck isn’t it a Broadway musical yet?!?! With the innundation of musicals based on movies growing exponentially every season, isn’t it time we brought Max and Co. to the live stage? Everyone’s clamoring for it - now someone just needs to get ‘er done, because we all know it would be the biggest money-maker this side of Spider-Man. Yes, there are only two songs in Hocus Pocus, but it’s anecdotal structure, it’s lovely teenage romance and - did I mention - talking cat are the stuff Broadway shows are made of. Happy 20th Anniversary Bette, Kathy et. al - you can put a spell on me anytime of the year!

Anne-Marie: At first glance any of my close friends might go, Anne-Marie and Evil Dead the Musical?!? The show is full of swearing, limbs flying and blood squirting everywhere. Let’s also add the fact that I am 150% terrified of staying in an abandoned cabin in the woods. What can I say? As soon as I heard the music, my inner daredevil took over and I instantly loved the show! My all-time favourite song is “All the Men in My Life Keep Getting Killed by Candarian Demons.” Thankfully all the men in my life haven’t experienced the same fate as in Annie’s. I unfortunately haven’t had the opportunity to see Evil Dead the Musical live. I am so grateful that the production is back in Toronto! When I go, you better believe I’ll be sitting in “The Splatter Zone”. I mean why would you go and see the only musical in the world that has a “Splatter Zone” and NOT sit in the “Splatter Zone”?! That’s like telling a kid they’re not allowed to dress up for Halloween!

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