From a Halloween spoof to Shakespeare to Ralphie, there’s plenty to see on small and big stages throughout McHenry County.
The holidays are covered when it comes to theater – with shows, such as Marian Central Catholic High School’s “Honeymoon at Graveside Manor” (opening Oct. 21), for Halloween and others, includuing “A Christmas Story: The Musical” (opening Nov. 4) at the Woodstock Opera House, to get audiences into the Christmas spirit.
While some Halloween-themed shows, such as “Dracula” (Oct. 27) at the Opera House, aren’t for the easily scared, Marian’s production is more funny than scary, Director Christine Connell said.
“There are a lot of twists and turns to it,” she said of the farce, which tells the story of newlyweds who end up celebrating their honeymoon in a one-time mortuary on Halloween.
Elsewhere, area schools – along with theater buffs throughout the world – are marking the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death this year. Among those celebrating The Bard are Woodstock High School with “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare” (opening Oct. 20), Huntley High School with “Macbeth” (opening Oct. 26) and Marengo Commuity High School with “Twelfth Night” (opening Nov. 10).
Shakespeare’s plays are universal, with few playwrights able to compare to his playful and compelling creations, said Anthony Walker, director of “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare” in Woodstock.
“Young love still happens. The struggle for power still happens,” he said. “Indecision leading to self-destruction still happens. I enjoy helping students crack the code of Shakespeare, but ‘Romeo & Juliet,’ ‘Macbeth’ and ‘Hamlet’ still resonate with students and adults because it deals with the human condition.”
With its Orson Welles Creative Arts Festival, Woodstock also is celebrating Shakespeare throughout October. An Oct. 28 “Shakespeare Theatre, Art & Mozart” event at the Woodstock Opera House will featuring British Shakespearean Robin Weatherall with a staged version of “Five Kings,” inspired by Orson Welles’ 1939 Shakespeare interpretation.
The following productions are taking place in McHenry County and beyond in the coming weeks. To have your event listed, visit PlanitNorthwest.com.
“JOSEPH AND THE AMAZING TECHNICOLOR DREAMCOAT,” through Oct. 23, Woodstock Opera House, 121 Van Buren St., Woodstock. The Biblical saga of Joseph and his coat of many colors comes to vibrant life in this musical parable presented by the Woodstock Musical Theatre Company. Schedule: 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 3 p.m. Sundays. Tickets: $24 adults, $21 seniors and students. Tickets and information: 815-338-5300 or www.woodstockoperahouse.com.
“PICASSO AT THE LAPIN AGILE,” through Oct. 23, Raue Center for the Arts, 26 N. Williams St., Crystal Lake. A comedy written by Steve Martin in 1993 that imagines a meeting between two of history’s greatest minds, Albert Einstein and Pablo Picasso, who meet at a gritty bistro called the Lapin Agile in Montmartre, Paris. Produced by Williams Street Repertory. Schedule: 8 p.m. Oct. 21-22; 3 p.m. Oct. 23. Tickets: $32.50-$38.50. Tickets and information: 815-356-9212 or https://rauecenter.ticketforce.com.
WSR COMEDY SKETCH & IMPROV SHOW, 8 p.m. Oct. 20, Raue Center for the Arts, 26 N. Williams St., Crystal Lake. A mixed set based on audience suggestions and original sketches by William Street Repertory’s Comedy Improv Troupe. Doors open 7:30 p.m. Tickets: $10 at the door. Tickets and information: 815-356-9212 or www.rauecenter.org.
“A LITTLE PRINCESS,” Oct. 20-30, Cosman Cultural Center, 12015 Mill St., Huntley. A musical based on the classic novel written by Frances H. Burnett and presented by Spotlight Youth Theater. A young, motherless girl is entrusted to the care of a boarding school while her father serves his country at war. Schedule: 9:30 & 11:45 a.m. Oct. 20; 9:30 & 11:45 a.m. and 7 p.m. Oct. 21; 2 & 6 p.m. Oct. 22; 3 p.m. Oct. 23; 7 p.m. Oct. 28; 2 & 6 p.m. Oct. 29; 3 p.m. Oct. 30. Tickets: $9-$12. Tickets and information: 847-516-2298 or www.spotlight.org/gettickets.aspx.
“HIS GIRL FRIDAY,” Oct. 20-30, Stage Left Café, 125 Van Buren St., Woodstock. The classic 1940 Howard Hawks’ comedy presented by TownSquare Players and Film Stripped Productions. Hildy Johnson, ace reporter, decides to leave the newspaper business for a quiet married life. Walter Burns, editor-in-chief of the paper and Hildy’s double-crossing ex-husband, has different plans. Schedule: 7:30 p.m. Oct. 20; 3 p.m. Oct. 22; 7:30 p.m. Oct. 23 & 27; 3 p.m. Oct. 29 & 30. Tickets: $15 general admission. Information: www.facebook.com/events/562958773910997 or www.woodstockoperahouse.com.
“THE COMPLETE WORKS OF WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE,” 7 to 9 p.m. Oct. 20, 22, 28 & 29, Woodstock High School auditorium, 501 W. South St., Woodstock. This twisted take on The Bard satirizes his greatest comedies, tragedies and his plays you’ve never heard of before in a fast-paced 90 minutes. Cost: $10 for adults, $5 students and seniors. Information: whs.woodstockschools.org or 815-338-4370.
“THE TRUMP CARD,” 8:15 p.m. Oct. 21-22, Raue Center for the Arts Café Stage, 26 N. Williams St., Crystal Lake. Part of Williams Street Repertory’s LAB Series, which explores new work through staged readings. Written by Mike Daisey, directed by Pat henderson and featuring Ivan Ewert. “The Trump Card” tells Donald Trump’s story from his earliest days and “breaks down what makes Trump tick – and in doing so illuminates the state of our American Dream, exploring the ways in which we may be selling out.” Admission is free, but donations are welcome. Information: www.wsrep.org or www.rauecenter.org.
JOE DIAMOND – “PARANORMAL,” 7:30 p.m. Oct. 21, The Listening Room at Lakeside Legacy Arts Park, 401 Country Club Road, Crystal Lake. Mind Reader Joe Diamond stars in a one-hour tour through the unknown. Take a tour through Joe Diamond’s life, as he shares real life ghost stories from his life, reads minds, and perform acts that defy explanations. Recommended for ages 13 and older. Tickets: $18 in advance, $20 at the door. Tickets and information: 815-455-8000 or www.lakesideartspark.org.
“HONEYMOON AT GRAVESIDE MANOR,” 7 p.m. Oct. 21 & 22, 2 p.m. Oct. 23, Marian Central Catholic High School auditorium, 1001 McHenry Ave., Woodstock. A Halloween-themed theatrical farce. It’s the tale of newlyweds Tyler & Marian Thorncraft. Tyler is a mystery writer with lots of books about ghosts and murder under his belt. He and Marian have just wed on this all Hallows Even and are ready for their first night of wedded bliss at Graveside Manor. No sooner has her feet touched the ground after being carried over the threshold then Marian discovers her love nest is really a one-time mortuary. Tickets: $10 adults, $5 seniors and students. Information: 815-338-4220.
“MACBETH,” 7 p.m. Oct. 26-29, Huntley High School Performing Arts Center, 13719 Harmony Road, Huntley. A William Shakespeare play presented by Huntley High School. The production incorporates the seasonal elements of witchcraft, ghosts and blood to help tell the frightening story of one man’s dissent into darkness and madness. Not appropriate for all audiences. Viewer discretion is advised. Tickets cost $5 at the door. Information: www.district158.org.
“DRACULA” – WITH STORYTELLER MEGAN WELLS, 8 p.m. Oct. 27, Woodstock Opera House, 121 Van Buren St., Woodstock. Experience the emotional thrill of Bram Stoker’s Gothic masterpiece in this elegantly horrific one-woman show by resident storyteller Megan Wells. With depth and charisma Megan brings the Monster to life as you have never experienced him before. Presented by Jim May and Nippersink Stories. This program is recommended for adults and young adults. Tickets: $19 all seats. Tickets and information: 815-338-5300 or www.woodstockoperahouse.com.
SHAKESPEARE THEATRE, ART & MOZART, 7 p.m. Oct. 28, Woodstock Opera House, 121 W. Van Buren St., Woodstock. Part of The Orson Welles Creative Arts Festival. Featuring British Shakespearean Robin Weatherall with a staged version of “Five Kings,” inspired by Orson Welles’ 1939 Shakespeare interpretation. Tibetan artist Tashi Norbu will create a large-scale painting to the music of Mozart played live by members of the Midwest Mozart Festival. Tickets: $20 adults, $10 students. Tickets and information: www.woodstockoperahouse.com. Festival information: www.welleswoodstock.com.
“TIME WARP!”, 7 p.m. Oct. 28 & 29, Raue Center for the Arts, 26 N. Williams St., Crystal Lake. An interactive performance presented by Williams Street Repertory members before a screening of the cult-classic film “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” at 8 p.m. Those who attend will be encouraged to get up and join the fun. Event will include pre-show entertainment and photo ops courtesy of McHenry County College’s Pride Club in the Raue’s newly renovated lobby café before moving to the main stage. Audience members who come dressed in their most outrageous costumes will be entered to win a $50 cash prize. Participation bags will be available to buy at a cost of $3 or two for $5 before the show. No outside props or food. “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” is rated R. Tickets: $15 at www.rauecenter.org or 815-356-9212.
“ARSENIC AND OLD LACE,” Oct. 28 through Nov. 13, PM&L Theatre, 877 Main St., Antioch. The classic dark comedy by Joseph Kesselring presented by PM& Theatre. Audiences will meet the charming and innocent old sisters who populate their cellar with the remains of “acceptable” roomers. Schedule: 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 2:30 p.m. Sundays. Tickets: $15 adults, $13 seniors and students. Tickets and information: 847-395-3055 or www.pmltheatre.com.
“UNA SERIE DI STILTI,” Nov. 3-5, McHenry High School West Campus auditorium, 4724 W. Crystal Lake Road, McHenry. Presented by the McHenry High School Theatre Department. An original play based on the traditional artform Commedia dell’arte. A pair of star-crossed lovers, Ottavio and Isabella, enlist the help of their faithful servants to rectify the feud of their fathers Dottore and Pantalone. The students, led by director Billy Seger, have worked to create an environment reminiscent of the Italian Renaissance, incorporating a modern flair. Schedule: 7 p.m. Nov. 3-4, 2 & 7 p.m. Nov. 5. Tickets: $6 for students and seniors, $8 for adults. Tickets on sale now at West Campus or email Joann May at firstname.lastname@example.org. Information: 815-385-7077.
"PETER AND THE STAR CATCHER," 7 p.m. Nov. 3, 7:30 p.m. Nov. 4-5, Cary-Grove High School Fine Arts Center, 2208 Three Oaks Road, Cary. A musical prequel to "Peter Pan" based on the books by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson and adapted for stage by Rick Elice. Sixteen actors play dozens of characters: sailors, pirates, British naval officers, Mollusk natives and orphans. It's a coming of age story about how a nameless orphan, inspired by a remarkable and ambitious girl, becomes Peter Pan and creates his own greatest foe – Captain Hook. Tickets: $8 adults, $5 students and seniors. Tickets and information: www.d155.org or 847-639-3825.
“MOON OVER BUFFALO,” 7 p.m. Nov. 4 & 5, 2 p.m. Nov. 6, Richmond-Burton Community High School, 8311 Route 31, Richmond. Production begins with a rehearsal of “Cyrano de Bergerac” (giant nose) at a small theater in Buffalo, New York. Among the actors are husband and wife duo George and Charlotte Hay, who’ve been on the stage forever and have portrayed nearly every role possible. Charlotte’s mother, Ethel, helps to mend clothing, and Paul is the trusted company manager who also happens to be the understudy for just about every character. George and Charlotte’s daughter, Rosalind, has left the crazy life of theater to settle down and is now engaged. She brings her fiancé, Howard, to meet everyone. Things get interesting when an indiscretion leads to an argument that leads to someone walking out that leads to someone taking sides, which leads to a hysterical chase scene. Will the family stay together? Will Rosalind come back to the theater? Will we learn more of what happens in these “Private Lives”? Tickets available at the door. Cost: $5 for students and seniors, $7 for adults. Information: Diane Kane at email@example.com.
“A CHRISTMAS STORY: THE MUSICAL,” Nov. 4-20, Woodstock Opera House, 121 Van Buren St., Woodstock. Presented by TownSquare Players. Set in the 1940s in the fictional town of Hohman, Indiana, the music follows 9-year-old Ralphie Parker and his quest for the Holy Grail of Christmas gifts – an official Red Ryder carbine-action 200-shot Range Model air rifle. Schedule: 8 p.m. Nov. 4, 3 p.m. Nov. 5 & 6, 8 p.m. Nov. 11, 3 & 8 p.m. Nov. 12, 3 p.m. Nov. 13, 8 p.m. Nov.18, 3 and 8 p.m. Nov. 19 and 3 p.m. Nov. 20. Tickets: $13, $18 and $23. Tickets and information: www.woodstockoperahouse.com.
“NOTHIN’ UP MY SLEEVE,” 14th annual, 6 p.m. Nov. 5, Raue Center for the Arts, 26 N. Williams St., Crystal Lake. Family fun magic variety show featuring Midwest’s finest magicians and entertainers. This years theme is “Star Wars” so kids of all ages are encouraged to wear a costume and get ready to meet some of your favorite characters from the famous movie saga. Doors open at 5 p.m. and the evening will commence with close-up magic in the lobby. Tickets start at $17 adults, $6 students. Proceeds benefit the theater. Information: 815-356-9212 or https://rauecenter.ticketforce.com.
“TWELFTH NIGHT,” Nov. 10-19, Marengo Community High School auditorium, 110 Franks Road, Marengo. A William Shakespeare play hosted by Marengo Community High School Theatre Department. One ofShakespeare’s most hilarious romantic comedies in a 90-minute abridged production. In the story, a pair of shipwrecked twins set into motion a tale of mistaken identity and unlikely love. In a never-before-seen staging at Marengo Community High School, actors will perform on a stage surrounded on four sides by audience seating. Schedule: 7 p.m. Nov. 10-11; 2 & 7 p.m. Nov. 12; 7 p.m. Nov. 18; 2 & 7 p.m. Nov. 19. Tickets: $8 for students and seniors, $10 for adults. Tickets and information: www.mchs.booktix.com. Save $1 when you buy tickets online.
“A VERY ELECTRIC CHRISTMAS,” 7 p.m. Nov. 10, Raue Center for the Arts, 26 N. Williams St., Crystal Lake. For audience of all ages. A tale of family, friendship and hope set to holiday hits from Nat King Cole, Mariah Carey and Tchaikovsky. Santa’s helpers are putting the final touches on presents as a young bird named Max and his family head south for the winter. Presented by Lightwire Theater, which uses puppetry-based neon creatures and electroluminescent artistry. Tickets: $20. Tickets and information: www.rauecenter.org or 815-356-9212.