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HomeDanceAssessment: “The Ghastly Dreadfuls” hits the notes for spooky enjoyable and sing-alongs

Assessment: “The Ghastly Dreadfuls” hits the notes for spooky enjoyable and sing-alongs

Atlanta’s residence for all issues puppet-related brings again an annual Halloween custom, as Heart for Puppetry Arts presents The Ghastly Dreadfuls. Created by the Heart’s Inventive Director Jon Ludwig and Resident Puppet Builder Jason Hines, the mixed-media present runs by October 29.

The present consists of 17 Halloween-themed vignettes, some utilizing conventional marionette puppetry, others utilizing different artistic storytelling strategies or individuals. Although the vignettes stand alone, the present’s thruline is that eight storytellers, referred to as “The Ghastly Dreadfuls,” have come from past the grave to recount spooky tales from world wide.

The piece begins with a self-titled opening quantity that includes tune and dance, with nearly each performer enjoying an instrument. They embody their intelligent character names, starting from “Shockingly Dreadful” to “Merely Dreadful” to “Catly Dreadful” (the one feline within the combine who, naturally, solely mews the entire night). This quantity showcases one of the pleasant features of the efficiency: the spectacular musical expertise of the forged. Particularly in “Introduction,” Scott DePoy (“Dizzily Dreadful”) and Jenn Cornell (“Joyfully Dreadful”) exhibit thrilling and memorable musical prowess. The enjoyable, lighthearted tune units the scene for the mix of quirky humor, spooky storytelling, and expert artistry that dominates the evening.

And what’s a night of scary tales with out delicate but completely positioned background music? The Dreadfuls tackle the problem of fixed underscoring, with Robert Stickland (“Shockingly Dreadful”) on the piano, DePoy on violin and Cornell on the cello. It’s so seamless, it’s hardly noticeable. I can’t bear in mind the final time I attended a efficiency with a movie-level underscoring corresponding to this, and it’s fairly superb.

One of the pleasant features of “The Ghastly Dreadfuls” is the spectacular musical expertise of the forged.

For brand new viewers members who would possibly anticipate the corporate to stay to marionettes and sock puppets, the primary story units the scene immediately for a various showcase. A mix of roll-by illustrations with a puppet on a stick, “Le Petit Vampyr,” an authentic story by The Ghastly Dreadfuls with music by Bryan Mercer, facilities on a vampire however is completely lighthearted. It’s fully sung by, inviting the viewers to sing alongside to the chorus. The present earns its 18-21+ score proper off the bat (no pun supposed), as this vignette options the night’s first nude depiction.

The present alternates evenly between narrative tales —  sung-through or not — and Halloween-adjacent songs. Most songs are vaudeville-style with some faucet dancing, like Irving Berlin’s “Pack Up Your Sins and Go to the Satan,” and there’s one haunting nation and Western basic, “(Ghost) Riders within the Sky.” The songs present levity when sandwiched between two scary tales, permitting the viewers a second of reset in order that tales all land as supposed and may stand alone relatively than working collectively.

Spencer G. Stephens, AKA “Darkly Dreadful,” significantly shines in these songs, as he demonstrates a real knack for the vaudeville showman model. Whether or not singing, dancing or enjoying an instrument, his charisma makes me need to watch him lead his personal cabaret.

Solely three of the vignettes function what is perhaps thought of conventional marionette puppetry with figures suspended by strings. “The Ghost on the Trapeze” made me do a double take as one marionette, seemingly absent of strings, swung on a trapeze set. Moreover, his flipping and hanging seemed so lifelike, I discovered myself astonished there was somebody above him controlling his each transfer. Sadly, some unrealistic tightrope strolling by different puppets within the story breaks the magic of the second.

The one story void of dialogue, “Le Danse Macabre” is sort of the marionette showcase and maybe the spotlight of the entire efficiency. Skeletons and different such haunters dance round in a graveyard, dismembering and reassembling themselves in spectacular feats of puppetry and once more making me neglect that every half was suspended by strings and punctiliously manipulated by an professional puppeteer.

ghastly dreadfuls
Jason Hines portrays “Catly Dreadful”

One of the singular but in the end underwhelming vignettes is a shadow movie, “Unique Ghosts: the Creepy Compendium of Worldwide Ghouls from A-Z.” With tales of creepy beings from cultures world wide, it’s basically a rapid-fire assortment of “Don’t do _____, or the supernatural monster who solely punishes the act will get you.” A few of them appear price an entire story, however the sequence feels decreased to a grocery record and hardly provides something of be aware. 

One other decrease level within the night is “The Horrific Experiment,” a melodramatic story advised within the Grand Guignol custom with muted colours and akin to an old style Frankenstein-type horror film. That includes performers sporting full-body character costumes full with outsized heads and fingers, the story is weirder than it’s creepy, with an unclear plot and an ending that falls flat.

Every of the 2 acts contains an upbeat, crowd-pleasing song-and-dance quantity towards the top. Act I contains a medley of favourite seasonal songs, from “Monster Mash” to theme songs like “The Addams Household” to basic instrumental sequences. To shut Act II, performers reprise their opening tune after which conclude with “Time Warp” from The Rocky Horror Image Present, a lot to the viewers’s sheer delight. Nobody needed to inform them to sing alongside to “Time Warp” on the finish — it occurred naturally.


Sally Henry Fuller is a theater nerd and performing arts journalist with a ardour for telling individuals’s tales. When she’s not interviewing artists, you’ll find her in a neighborhood espresso store or watching a musical together with her husband.



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