Ghoulmaster’s Haunted Playhouse is just a charmer. That’s the word for it: Charmer. It’s a love letter to Halloween, horror hosts and the power of non-conformity that clearly has a lot of passion and joy behind it, and those good feelings are all over the stage.
A unique confection made with a dash of Elvira and other horror hosts, a soupcon of Pee-Wee Herman and his friends, a goodly dose of Rocky Horror and straight-up Broadway-style showmanship, and a real, palpable sense of delight just to be there, the show radiates energy. It’s raunchy but never mean-spirited, consistently funny and clever, and aggressively modern and forward-thinking… while being about as sweet and nostalgic as you can get.
It might sound like a big theatrical contradiction, but it really isn’t. The whole thing is cohesive and feels like visiting an imaginary world that’s both familiar and new at the same time—a worthy successor to fine, monstrous traditions. The Haunted Playhouse has an underlying theme of inclusion for every kind of monster we are, and if that’s not a great message all year long, what is?
The space it’s in right now is intimate and the audience is drawn into the impeccably designed set, and the musical numbers (yes, it’s got musical numbers!) are strong, especially on dance. You know those amusement park variety revues where you feel like maybe there was one too many dance/music numbers, or they lasted too long? Well, you won’t feel that way at Ghoulmaster’s Playhouse. There’s no lifeless corporate entertainment or fourth-rate community theater dance on this stage!
The entire cast is top-quality, with particular standouts including the creaky manservant, the psychopathic mailman and of course, the great Ghoulmaster (Pete Carter) himself. Their performances are smooth, confident and assured, with good comic timing. And again, nobody else in the cast is a slouch, either—they can’t be, with this much song, dance, comedy (and a touch of puppetry and variety) to do.
Most of all, as noted above, the slight, cartoony storyline of the evening is about Halloween. If you’re reading this, you probably love Halloween—and you can bet that Pete Carter, the show’s star, loves it, too. It’s a show made for October, and in fact, it’s running all through the month. Audiences are encouraged to dress for the occasion, too—top costumes will get Ghoulmaster T-shirts.