Adrienne Warren, Syesha Mercado, and Margaret Hoffman
in Dreamgirls 
(© Joan Marcus)
Adrienne Warren, Syesha Mercado, and Margaret Hoffman
in Dreamgirls (© Joan Marcus)
Miami theatre steps into fall on a high note -- a whole show of them, actually -- with the musical melodrama Dreamgirls. Check out American Idol's Syesha Mercado as Deena Jones in the new touring production of the girl group extravaganza, stopping by the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts from October 19-24 for its only Florida visit this month.

Elsewhere around the state, there's a variety of Halloween frights onstage, starting with Jeffrey Hatcher's adaptation of the classic Henry James novel The Turn of the Screw, a decidedly grim and quiet tale of eerie English orphans at the Lowndes Shakespeare Center in Orlando (October 13-November 7). More gothic ghostliness is afoot in the Palm Beach Shakespeare Festival production of The Woman in Black, haunting the Atlantic Theater in Jupiter (October 29-November 7), while Mac Wellman's adaptation of Dracula enters Gainesville's Hippodrome State Theater freely and of its own will, October 15-November 7. Tampa audiences can thrill to freeFall Theatre Company's production of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde at Studio@620 (October 20-November 7), and in Coral Gables a man's search for his missing limb is played for ghastly laughs in Martin McDonagh's A Behanding in Spokane at the Gable Stage at the Biltmore Hotel (October 23-November 21).

Shake off the frights on the west coast with a pair of bright-eyed musicals: Florida Studio Theatre in Sarasota will stage the '50s and '60s revue The Wanderers for an extended run (October 31-January 1) while the Manatee Players in nearby Bradenton have the latest installment in Dan Goggin's seemingly unstoppable singing-nun series with Nunsensations! (October 28-November 14).

Back in Tampa, the David A. Straz Jr. Center goes for variety with a Jobsite Theatre production of the sublimely creepy serial killer puzzler Mindgame (October 20-November 7), and the newest edition of the musical parody stew Forbidden Broadway (October 29-February 20). Meanwhile in Orlando, Mad Cow Theatre invites us to listen in on the scandalous whispers of a socialite's servants in Jean Genet's thriller The Maids (October 1-24).

Actress Karen Stephens takes on all 14 of playwright Sarah Jones' New York stories in the one-woman showcase Bridge and Tunnel at the Sixth Star Studio in Fort Lauderdale (October 14-November 7), while the Broward Center for the Performing Arts has the U.S. debut of Killing Kevin Spacey (October 29-30), a darkly comic tale of cinematic obsession from Canadian fringe Festival favorites Elan Wolf Farbiarz and Cory Terry. Elsewhere up the coast, Palm Beach Dramaworks in West Palm Beach stages George Bernard Shaw's Candida (October 8-November 21), a wry expose of marriage mores.

Sign up for some poignant life lessons in Naples with the Gulfshore Playhouse production of Tuesdays With Morrie (October 29-November 21), adapted from Mitch Albom's bestselling bedside memoirs from his days with an ailing professor. Nearby, catch Rabbit Hole at the Venice Theatre (October 21-November 7), the Pulitzer-winning death-in-the-family drama from David Lindsay-Abaire. And in Fort Myers, the Florida Repertory Theatre opens their 13th season with Noises Off (October 26-November 20), the whirlwind comedy where backstage drama spills onto the stage of a touring farce with hilarious results.