Booooooo. It's the sound no one wants to hear in the theater...unless it's Halloween! As this holiday beloved by thespians everywhere rapidly approaches, we've compiled a list of the creepiest shows playing in New York City. Prepare to be horrified.
To purchase tickets to a show, click on its title below.
1. Dracula — through October 29 at the Gene Frankel Theatre
Bram Stoker's classic vampire story has been a Halloween favorite for a century. Hunger & Thirst Theatre presents Patricia Lynn's modern adaptation, which transposes the story to 21st-century America and imagines the infamous Transylvanian count as a smartphone-wielding bloodsucker in a well-tailored suit. Lynn may be onto something: If vampires do walk among us, they're likely not the sparkly, friendly creatures of Twilight lore. This Dracula promises a classic fright-fest for modern sensibilities.
2. The Collector — October 26-November 13 at 59E59 Theaters
Based on the 1963 novel by John Fowles, this is the story of Frederick Clegg, a lonely and socially awkward government clerk who collects butterflies in his spare time. After winning the lottery, he buys a large country house and decides to kidnap beautiful art student Miranda Grey and add her to his collection. This two-person psychological thriller (adapted by Mark Healy) is sure to feel even more intense in the intimate confines of the black box theater at 59E59, which will be playing the role of Clegg's cellar.
3. Rent Control — October 22-November 12 at Soho Playhouse
This solo play from Evan Zes is liable to cause terrifying mental flashbacks for anyone who has ever experienced housing instability — in other words, most people living in New York. Zes tells the true story of his rent-stabilized apartment, a lucky situation he took advantage of until it started taking advantage of him. Layered with intrigue and scary characters from New York's real estate underbelly (all played with zest by Zes), this is the show you want to see for a good, reality-based fright.
4. New York Haunted Hayride — through October 31 on Randall's Island
We would be remiss not to include one haunted house on this list. After all, haunted houses were "immersive" before that was even a thing. Back for its second year in New York, the much expanded Haunted Hayride of Randall's Island now features three distinct attractions: The classic tractor-drawn hayride through the backwoods, the House of Shadows (a maze illuminated only by your handheld lantern), and Purgatory, a new venue to grab snacks and souvenirs. Oh, and in case you're perusing the disturbing news coming out of the American heartland and wondering...yes, there will be clowns.
5. Anaïs Nin Goes to Hell — through October 28 at the Theater at the 14th Street Y
This infernal comedy imagines the afterlife meeting of some of history's most fascinating women. Joan of Arc, Cleopatra, and Queen Victoria exist rather colorlessly on an island in the River Styx until erotic writer Anaïs Nin arrives, bringing the party with her. This one isn't immediately terrifying until you stop and consider how powerful women throughout history are often only really remembered for their sexual mystique and ability to influence men. Playwright David Stallings is hell-bent on cracking that history wide open in this thrilling new play.
6. Frankenstein — through November 13 at the Players Theatre
Another Halloween classic, Frankenstein is Mary Shelley's story of an ambitious scientist who seeks to harness the power of life itself, and in the process, he creates a monster. Composing team Michael Sgouros and Brenda Bell have written an all-new musical version of this story, and a dedicated design team has given the production its steampunk flair, all while remaining true to Shelley's original tale. For an old-school night of Gothic theater, this is a good bet.
7. The Humans — through January 17 at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre
On its surface, Stephen Karam's Tony-winning Broadway play appears to be just another family drama, but spend a few minutes with the Blakes in the Chinatown apartment in which it is set and you'll begin to feel the existential dread that undergirds every moment. Karam cites Napoleon Hill's six basic fears (poverty, criticism, ill health, loss of love, old age, and death) on the first page of the published edition of the script, and there is no question that he explores all of them in this 90-minute Thanksgiving dinner with one American family peering over the precipice. Considering just how closely their fears align with the overarching anxiety sweeping our nation, The Humans might just be the scariest show on this list.
- Reed Birney
- Stephen Karam
- New York City
- Joe Mantello
- Sarah Steele
- Players Theatre
- Eric Fletcher
- Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre
- Evan Zes
- Lou Moreno
- John Fowles
- Patricia Lynn
- Antonio Minino
- David Stallings
- Michael Sgouros
- Amanda Jones
- Brenda Bell
- Tom Schwans
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