Halloween has become a big hairy deal, second only to Christmas in terms of consumer spending (Candy! Costumes! Yard decorations! Parties! Greeting cards!) and general brouhaha. According to the National Retail Federation, a source we don’t often consult when writing about the arts, Halloween spending will reach a record $9.1 billion this year. Seven out of 10 Americans plan to celebrate in some way. Ten percent of consumers will dress their pets as pumpkins.
What will you do on or around Halloween? Here’s what we like, from an arts perspective.
All Hallows’ Eve at the Opera. Russian soprano Mlada Khudoley, who has sung leading roles at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden and Minnesota Opera, joins pianist Denis Evstuhin for an evening of music by Tchaikovsky, Mussorgsky, Shostakovich, Wagner, Verdi and others inspired by dark legends and tales. Oct. 28 at The Museum of Russian Art. FMI and tickets ($25-30).
COLLIDE Theatrical Dance Company: “Dracula.” Set in modern-day New York City, this high-energy, rock-and-roll retelling of the Bram Stoker tale was a hit in 2016. It’s back with Michael Hanna in the title role, vocalist Katie Gearty headlining the live music, and local dance favorites including Renee Guittar, Andrea Mislan and Rush Benson. Oct. 27-Nov. 12 at the Ritz Theater. An adults-only Halloween show on Oct. 31 hosted by Nadine DuBois will feature burlesque aerialists Kitson and Pistol and costume prizes. FMI and tickets ($26-50; $35-50 Halloween).
Croak: The 24th Annual Barebones Halloween Outdoor Puppet Extravaganza. A community-created spectacle that honors the circle of life by celebrating fall, the season of death. Larger-than-life puppets, drama, stilting, dance, fire, song and music combine in a pageant based on historical and literary themes. The performances are followed by audience receptions with free hot food and drink and music by bands including the Brass Messengers. Oct. 28-31 at Hidden Falls Regional Park. FMI and donations (pay-what-you-can; $10-20 suggested).
Haunted Basement. New year, new digs. No longer in the Soap Factory, the Haunted Basement is in Building 9 of 2010 East Hennepin Avenue. “We aim to make every date of the run its own unique nightmare,” says creative director Christopher Barton, “but … we have some big plans in store for certain nights.” Like, maybe, Halloween? 18+ with ID. Oct. 25-29 and 31. FMI and tickets ($25-$40).
The Twin Cities Horror Festival. Because why shouldn’t Halloween last 11 days? TCHF VI boasts a teeth-chattering lineup of theater, dance, short films, comedy and storytelling. These sound promising: Dangerous Productions’ “Skin” by Oya Mae Duchess Davis, “A Terrifyingly Intimate Evening with Fotis,” “Animus” (inspired by Ingmar Bergman’s “Persona”), The Coldharts’ “Eddie Poe” and Four Humors’ “Harold,” based on campfire ghost stories. Oct. 25-Nov. 5 at the Southern Theater. FMI including schedule and tickets ($15.12; see it all for $160).
Zeitgeist: “Crocus Hill Ghost Story.” The story of a house possessed, told with music, real-world set pieces, video and projected images. The score is a collaboration between the new music ensemble Zeitgeist, composer/flutist Julie Johnson, writer Cheri Johnson and filmmaker/actor DJ Mendel. A Knight Arts Challenge winner. Ages 14+. Oct. 27-28 and 29, Nov. 2-4 at Studio Z. FMI including teaser and tickets.
Tonight (Wednesday, Oct. 25) at the Twin Cities Film Fest: “Twin Cities.” By day, St. Paul filmmaker David Ash is director of treasury for Ecolab; in his spare time, he makes movies. Shot in and around Minneapolis and St. Paul, “Twin Cities” is his third feature-length outing. The story, loosely: John (Clarence Wethern), a computer programmer, is suicidal until a terminal cancer diagnosis gives him a reason to live. His wife, Emily (Bethany Ford Binkley), an author with writer’s block, is hugely pregnant. Their marriage is in trouble. Although not placed exactly at the center, a searing recitation (by Richard Ooms) of the Derek Walcott poem “Love After Love” is a fulcrum on which the film turns, becoming the same story but different, and calling everything that has happened before into question. Good writing, good acting, a sudden shocker and a super-twist make this a film worth seeing; it’s a puzzle, but so elegantly crafted you’re exhilarated rather than frustrated. Thursday’s screening sold out right away, so a second was added tonight at 9:45 p.m. As of this writing, tickets are still available. FMI and tickets ($12). Here’s the trailer (with the Ooms reading).
Starts tonight at Open Eye Figure Theatre: “The Dream Channel: Episode 3 (in 3D).” Zhauna Franks’s latest dance-theater work explores human frailty, aspiration and desire through the genres of film noir, reality TV and dream imagery. The Dream Channel “broadcasts the subconscious of a sleepless dreamer 24 hours a day, complete with commercial interruptions.” A cast of 12 dancers takes small audiences on episodic journeys in and around Open Eye. Each show is different; if you go to one of the first two and fall in love, you’ll have time to catch another. Preview tonight at 7:30 ($10). Shows Friday through Sunday at 7:30. Ages 14 and up. FMI and tickets ($23/10; pay-as-able at the door).
Starts Thursday at The Great Hall: 23rd Annual Artability Show and Sale. In People Incorporated’s Artability art and writing workshops, people with mental illness can explore their interests, share their love of art, gain confidence in their skills – and sell their work at this annual show. Over 500 original pieces of art by more than 100 artists living with mental illness will be available for sale, with 80 percent of the proceeds going directly back to the artists. This three-day event includes live painting, music and spoken word performances, installations, activities and interactive events. Thursday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-8 p.m. The opening ceremony at 6 p.m. Thursday features a performance by the Twin Cities Community Gospel Choir.
Thursday and Friday at the Hopkins Center for the Arts: Pen Pals: Jennifer Egan. Her fifth novel, “Manhattan Beach,” is just out and “immensely satisfying,” says the New York Times. Her fourth, “A Visit from the Goon Squad,” won the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award. Thursday night is sold out, but tickets are still available for Friday at 11 a.m. FMI and tickets ($40-50). Egan’s appearance is part of a stellar Pen Pals season that began with Alan Alda (sold out) and includes Dan Rather (sold out) and Colson Whitehead (sold out). You might want to get tickets now to Jesmyn Ward in May before that sells out, too.
Saturday at the Bloomington REI: Jonathan Slaght: “Endangered Species of the Russian Far East.” Wildlife conservationist Slaght is an author, photographer and blogger for Scientific American who spends part of each year in a place most of us know nothing about: the southern fringe of the Russian Far East, whose borders include North Korea, China and the Sea of Japan. When he’s not tramping through snow tracking tigers, leopards and endangered owls, he lives in Minneapolis with his family. At REI, he’ll talk about the Russian landscape, the species found there and ongoing conservation projects. Hosted by the Izaak Walton League. 2 p.m. Free. Here’s a piece we wrote for his first photography show at the old Bell Museum.
Saturday at Northrop: New York City Ballet Moves. There’s a lot of buzz and excitement about this. With 16 dancers from the outstanding New York City Ballet performing five different ballets – four to live music – it’s a bright, shining highlight of Northrop’s 2017-18 season. On the program: Balanchine’s “Sonatine,” a rarely seen pas de deux, and Jerome Robbins’ “In the Night,” about three couples at different points in their romantic relationships. Both classics. Also three works from the new generation: Justin Peck’s “In Creases,” Christopher Wheeldon’s “After the Rain” pas de deux and Angelin Preljocaj’s “La Stravaganza.” 7:30 p.m. FMI and tickets ($59-79; $30 under 30). Free performance preview in the Best Buy Theater at 6:15 p.m.