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Too ghoul for school, theater for the Halloween weekend
by Mary Shen Barnidge

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The weeks surrounding Christmas, Hanukah, Kwanzaa, solstice and New Year's are often collectively dubbed the "holiday season" in our multicultural society, but you're not likely to hear the three days set aside to recognize the transition from October to November—individually, Halloween ( or "Hallow's Eve" ), Day of the Dead and All Souls' Day—grouped under the name "Death Day season" in the near future.

Theater's pagan Greek origins predispose it to celebrations reminding us that the darkness is only temporary. Refuting the gloom in 2018 are an abundance of spooky and spectral entertainments listed below:

Wear your walking shoes:

—Les Innocents/The Innocents. A concert in the Paris catacombs staged in 1897—no, not by the phantom of the opera—provides the source of this promenade-staged spectacle by ( re )discover theatre. It runs through Nov. 4 at Mason Hall at the Preston Bradley Center, 941 W. Lawrence Ave.

—Masque Macabre: Strawdog takes advantage of its wide open space to present a festive gathering with 14 storylines in real time, based on Poe's shivery tales, and let us choose which one( s ) we want to follow. It runs through Oct. 31 at Strawdog ( formerly Signal ) Theater, 1802 W. Berenice Ave.

—The Walls of Harrow House: Forget clowns! The humanoid puppet tour guides escorting us through this gloomy old house designed by a reclusive architect are far scarier. It runs through Nov. 3 at the Chopin, 1543 W. Division St.

Pack your hankies:

—The Madness of Edgar Allen Poe: A Love Story: The Tudor mansion on the wooded Peabody Estate makes the perfect setting for our haunted hero's search through his tortured memories. It rusn through Nov. 4 at First Folio Theatre, 1717 W. 31th St. in Oak Brook.

—Little Shop of Horrors: A carnivorous plant in this 1982 musical rom-com adaptation of the venerable B-grade screamflick adds a new dimension to the concept of "botanical weapons." Runs to Oct. 23 at Drury Lane Theatre, 100 Drury Lane in Oak Brook.

Look at your surroundings:

—Near Death Experience: Mentalist Neil Tobin displays his occult powers right in the Reaper's very own parlor at an actual working cemetery—can you get any more site-specific than that? It runs through Nov. 4 in the Rosehill Cemetery chapel, 5800 N. Ravenswood Ave. .

Travel the city from north to south:

—Frankenstein: Lifeline playwright Robert Kauzlaric re-imagines Mary Shelley's classic as a psychological journey fueled by filial devotion. Runs through Nov. 11 at Lifeline Theatre, 6912 N. Glenwood Ave. 773-761-4477

—Frankenstein: The man-made creature recounts his story in all its brutal candor when British author Nick Dear's adaptation inaugurates Remy Bumppo's new home on Belmont Avenue. Runs Oct. 14-Nov. 17 at Theater Wit, 1227 W. Belmont Ave. 773-975-8150

—Frankenstein: The light-and-shadow artists of Manual Cinema take up temporary residence in Hyde Park to explore Shelley's foresight as it applies to our technology today. Runs Nov. 1-Dec. 2 at Court Theatre, 5535 S. Ellis Ave. 773-753-4472

Bring the kids:

—Ghost, Ghouls and Talking Potatoes: That's Weird Grandma. The creative staff at Barrel of Monkeys believes ( quite correctly ) that children themselves, not adults, know best what's fun for children. It runs through Nov. 4 at the Neo-Futurist Theater, 5133 N. Ashland Ave.; 773-506-7140

—Bunnicula: This heartwarming tale of a misunderstood orphan vegan-vampire rabbit is a perennial favorite in the Lifeline repertoire. It runs Oct. 20-Nov. 25 at Lifeline Theatre, 6912 N. Glenwood Ave.; 773-761-4477

Chortle and guzzle:

—The Golden Girls: Bea Afraid!-The Halloween Edition. The irreverent dragsters of Hell in A Handbag trick and treat in this holiday romp. It runs Oct. 13-Nov. 3 at Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont Ave.; 773-327-5252

—Poe. Christina Lepri's "creepy/campy" comedy for Theatre Above The Law proposes a cabaret where a 12-year-old Lost Lenore hosts re-enactments of cousin Edgar's greatest hits. It runs Oct. 20-Nov. 11 at the McKaw Theater, 1439 W. Jarvis Ave.; 773-655-7197

—The Rocky Balboa Picture Show. Corn Productions parodies, not one, but two cinema classics in this musical mash-up. It runs through Nov. 3 at the Cornservatory, 4210 N. Lincoln Ave.

If restless spirits can roam the land of the living on Halloween, why not those of us still alive, too? Leave the candy by the door, throw on your cape and your calavera mask and go see a play! Boo!

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