PR image for The Castle of Otranto
PR image for The Castle of Otranto
October means Halloween, right? So the month begins with Brit playwright David Harrower's Kill the Old Torture Their Young at the Steep Theatre (through November 7), which at the very least has a horror title! For appropriate theatrical chills, First Folio Theatre adapts Horace Walpole's pioneering gothic novel, The Castle of Otranto (through November 1), a world premiere staged in the suitably neo-gothic Peabody Mansion. Next, InFusion Theatre Company presents Rhymes with Evil, an adults-only creeper with puppets and visual spectacle authored by Charles R. Traeger, at the Storefront Theatre (October 5-November 8).

By all means enjoy the show, but don't lose your head over Sleepy Hollow: A New Folk Musical, staged by Filament Theatre Ensemble at The Viaduct (October 16-November 9). Scott Ferguson, creator of School House Rock Live!, is the director. Mary Shelley's Frankenstein is adapted and directed by wunderkind Sean Graney for The Hypocrites, in a promenade production at the Museum of Contemporary Art (October 21-November 1). Graney suggests his version is about the literary and media transformations of the novel more than it is about the making of a creature. Next in line with a Halloween short-run is Porchlight Music Theatre, offering Macabaret at Theatre Building Chicago (October 22-November 1), promising light-hearted revue songs about murder, ghosts and ghouls. Ah, killing me softly with your song, eh?

Several additional Halloween treats continue runs from last month: the Edgar Allen Poe-inspired Fear, another promenade piece at the Neo-Futurarium -- located above a real funeral parlor -- (through October 31); Annoyance Productions' Bucket of Blood, a world premiere musical based on the 1950's cheapo Roger Corman movie (through October 31); and Plans 1 Through 8 from Outer Space, a late-night "pre-quel" spoof inspired by Ed Woods's dreadful 1950's sci-fi flick, Plan 9 from Outer Space, produced by New Millennium Theatre Company at the National Pastime Theatre (through October 31).

As for serious drama, The Sinnerman Ensemble begins the month with Chekhov's seldom-seen Ivanov, in a new version by legendary director and teacher Sheldon Patinkin, staged at The Viaduct (through November 7). Writers' Theatre has lined up a gifted cast for Tom Stoppard's Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead (through December 6), staged by company artistic director Michael Halberstam. Also, Raven Theatre presents Death of a Salesman, which they've staged twice before, shaped by artistic director Michael Menendian (October 6-December 5). There's also the Joffrey Ballet premiere of Othello, offered as the Joffrey's autumn home season at the Auditorium Theatre (October 14-25), with the stunning Francisco Calmels dancing the title role.

Also notable: Neil LaBute's The Mercy Seat at Profiles Theatre (through November 15). Profiles has had great success with LaBute's work and forged a close relationship with him. At Steppenwolf's Merle Reskin Garage Theatre, The House on Mango Street (October 13-November 1) is a collection of vignettes told by a young girl growing up in one of Chicago's Latino neighborhoods. The world premiere of Mouse in a Jar, a harrowing domestic drama by prize-winning Chicago playwright Martyna Majok, is presented by Red Tape Theatre at St. Peter's Episcopal Church (through October 31). Also, Ten Square is another world premiere offered jointly by MPAACT and Pegasus Players (October 6-November 22). Shepsu Aakhu's drama looks at a United States in which the government pays slave reparations, ushering in opportunities to build a new society.

Other new works include The Man Who Was Thursday, an espionage farce adapted from G. K. Chesterton's 1908 novel, produced by New Leaf Theatre at the Lincoln Park Cultural Center (October 15-November 21); and Summer People by Jenny Connell, a play set in Maine and Fallujah, about a coming-of-age girl and soldier coming home, at the Gift Theatre (October 22-December 13). But the most interesting show of the month may be the Silk Road Cabaret at the Silk Road Theatre Project (October 21-November 1), a revue performed by Asian-Americans of Broadway and popular songs set in Silk Road locales, drawn from The King and I, South Pacific, Kismet, Miss Saigon, and more.