Love horror? Love theater? Love Christmas stories with a twist? Get yourself to the Off-Leash Art Box in Minneapolis to Dread the Halls: A Gathering of Holiday Horror.
Presented by Oncoming Productions, Dread the Halls features four short holiday-themed vignettes interspersed with music by The Champagne Drops. Anyone who loves the Twin Cities Horror Festival (and you SHOULD--how many times do we have to tell you?) needs to catch this show.
Dread the Halls starts with Rogues Gallery Arts's "Naughty or Nice," a short piece about siblings surviving the zombie apocalypse. You may note overtones of Dawn of the Dead and The Ref. Written by Duck Washington and directed by Jena Young, "Naughty or Nice" manages to create strong characters and believable, touching familial relationships in a very short play. Lovely acting by Brynn Berryhill and Eric Thompson as Constance and Gabe add even more depth and emotion. I love the skilled way Washington sketches the setting with a radio voice-over and the lighting (by Julia Carlis) beautifully evokes the mood.
Between each segment, the lovely duo The Champagne Drops (Leslie Vincent and Emily Dussault) accompanied by Erik Ostrom (on a variety of instruments) add their distinctive blended voices to haunting original numbers as well as putting a dark twist on holiday classics. You'll never hear "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" the same way again. Also, they need to put out a Halloween album like now please.
"777: A Very Crowley Christmas", is a Ghoulish Delights production created and performed by Tim Uren (also of the Mysterious Old Radio Listening Society--a podcast you should definitely be listening to). Uren takes us through the complex history of Aleister Crowley and the concept of Anti-Christmas. His approach reminded us of his fellow Twin Cities Horror Festival alum Reverend Matt's Monster Science. That is, until Uren's tale ends with a mysterious, startling twist.
Erin Sheppard Presents is up next with "Searching for Santa (You Better Watch Out)" which tells the story of a man (Joe Bozic) who heads to the North Pole in search of Santa Claus. He does not find Santa (spoiler!) but what he does find there is delightfully dark, creepy and funny. Written by Joe Bozic and choreographed by Erin Sheppard, this twisted holiday tale features Sheppard's signature fantastic blend of athletic, energetic dance and perfect contemporary song choice. We love that Sheppard's dancers are also compelling actors (Erin Sheppard, Regan K. Saunders, Jessica Chad) as well as dancers. And the costumes are spot-on--particularly Sheppard's first costume, which is hilarious. As we always say when we see her work: Yay, more Erin Sheppard Presents PLEASE.
The last play of the evening is Oncoming Productions's fantastic "Holiday Spirits," written by Sean Dillon and directed by Victoria Pyan. Simultaneously funny and genuinely spooky, "Holiday Spirits" tells the story of Jackson (Sean Dillon) and Tim (Rob Ward) who, upon moving into their new (old) house, find a bottle of cognac which gives them some very unexpected effects. To say more would spoil the magical surprise of where the story goes, but suffice it to say that we'd love to see much more of these characters and their story. Hilarious and chilling and a perfect way to end a winter's evening.
Go! Quick! Follow and support these amazing theater companies! Happy Holidays! BYE!