Kevin Webb and Caitlin Jackson in Kokandy Productions’ “Sweeney Todd” at Chopin Theatre. Credit: Evan Hanover

It’s scary how many eerie activities Chicago has to offer during the Halloween season. For starters, the Auditorium Theatre’s National Landmark Backstage Tours has special Ghost Tours through Nov. 22. Designed by esteemed architects Louis Sullivan and Dankmar Adler, the 134-year-old building boasts ghosts that whistle in the stage door alley and appear in some of the seats at night.

Rough House Theater presents six immersive acts of puppet horror in House of the Exquisite Corpse III (through Nov. 4) at Steppenwolf’s Merle Reskin Garage. The production features puppets made by Emilie Wingate, Jacky Kelsey, Justin D’Acci, Ken Buckingham, Sion Silva, and Tom Lee. “Our Halloween production gives these artists the freedom to follow their own visions, create their own visuals, and be presented as individuals,” says Mike Oleon, Co-Artistic Director of Rough House. “They get to work independently, motivated by whatever flavor of horror that freaks that person out the most. Then we all come together to assemble a collaborative anthology that, collectively, blurs the lines between horror, puppetry and theater, beckoning you to gaze into a variety of nightmares you won’t soon forget.”

On Oct. 31, Water Tower Place is hosting its first ever Halloween Trick or Treating Extravaganza. The inaugural event includes face painters, balloon artists, and seven floors of participating stores where trick-or-treaters can receive goodies. There’s also a photo pop-up station on the 6th floor.

Hollow Head Pete and the Wicked Wish is a free Halloween podcast designed for listeners of all ages. Produced by the Emmy and BAFTA-award winning Bix Pix Entertainment in collaboration with Atomic Toybox Entertainment, the three-part special stars Deven Green. Check it out on SpotifyApple PodcastsAmazon MusiciHeartMedia, and BuzzSprout sans subscriptions.

Through Oct. 31, Chicago’s Music Box Theatre continues its Bride of Music Box of Horrors film series with screenings of the Mel Brooks comedy classic Young Frankenstein (1974), Henri-Georges Clouzot’s French thriller Diabolique (1955), and the feminist werewolf tale Ginger Snaps (2000).

Kokandy Productions concludes its 2023 season with the Chicago premiere of American Psycho: The Musical through Nov. 26 at the Chopin Studio Theatre. Based on the novel by Bret Easton Ellis, this slasher satire features music and lyrics by Duncan Sheik and book by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa. Kyle Patrick portrays the titular character made famous by Christian Bale in the same-named 2000 film by Mary Harron. The supporting players include Hailey Brisard, Amber Dow, Sonia Goldberg, Emily Holland, Caleigh Pan-Kita Anna Seibert, Quinn Simmons, and Danielle Smith. 

American Psycho is slick and sexy. It’s also highly disturbing and sickeningly upbeat, so… let’s get into it! Set against a backdrop of cinematic ’80s excess, the show fills our ears with a throbbing EDM-fueled sound unlike any musical I’ve heard before. It’s horror, it’s satire, it goes for the guts and gets into your head. And it’s all tinged with that David Lynchian unease of ‘What is actually happening?’ Extending that question of uncertainty into the live experience, we’re playing with what we show vs. what we don’t show, what you see vs. what you think you saw. A lot is going to be left up to the audience, and I can’t wait to have those conversations,” says the play’s director Derek Van Barham.

For those who missed Kokandy’s award-winning adaptation of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street at Chicago’s Chopin Theatre, it’s being restaged as a concert on Nov. 11-12 at Theatre at the Center in Munster, Indiana. Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler’s macabre musical will include Kokandy’s original cast members Kevin Webb and Caitlin Jackson in their Jeff Award-winning turns as Sweeney Todd and Mrs. Lovett, respectively.

Ms. Arvia is a Rebellious columnist and movie critic; entertainment ghostwriter; award-winning artist; and grant-winning filmmaker.