Phantoms, Zombies and Ghosts – Thrills and Chills from Your Favorite Frightening Musicals | Playbill

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Halloween on Broadway Phantoms, Zombies and Ghosts – Thrills and Chills from Your Favorite Frightening Musicals Musical theatre abounds with sparkling dance numbers and happy endings, but stories of ghosts and ghouls have also graced the stage. Take a look at some of the scary stories that have spooked theatregoers through the years. (Be sure to read this with the lights on!)
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Halloween is just around the corner, and the Playbill staff thought our readers might be in the mood for a good scare. With musical adaptations of American Psycho and Pan's Labyrinth in the future, we put together a collection of some of the scariest stories that have been adapted for the stage. 

Scroll down to see the horror stories that have crept their way to the stage.

The Exorcist

William Peter Blatty's novel scared readers everywhere when it debuted in 1971 and was adapted for the screen two years later. The film, starring Linda Blair as the possessed pre-teen Regan, quickly became famous for its frightening special effects. The stage adaptation, starring Brooke Shields and Richard Chamberlain, made its world premiere at the Geffen Playhouse in 2012. With a script by John Pielmeier and direction by John Doyle, The Exorcist examined people's faith — or lack thereof — and incorporated elements from the Roman Catholic Mass and other religious rituals into the production.


Evil Dead — The Musical

Based on the cult classic film series, this rock musical follows a group of college students who, when spending the weekend at a cabin in the woods, accidentally unleash an evil terror and proceed to battle it — while, of course, singing and dancing.


Sweeney Todd

Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler's Tony-winning musical, based on Christopher Bond's 1973 play Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street (which was in turn inspired by the 1840s "penny dreadful" serial novel), depicts a man who seeks revenge for wrongful imprisonment by posing as a barber and slitting the throats of his customers — who are then baked into the "worst pies in London."



The National Theatre's production of Nick Dear's Frankenstein, adapted from Mary Shelley's novel, was directed by Danny Boyle and starred Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller as Dr. Frankenstein and the Creature. In a casting twist, the two actors alternated roles at different performances, each playing the doctor and the creature he brought to life.


The Phantom of the Opera

Gaston Leroux's novel was adapted into numerous films, and in 1986, Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical premiered in London. The story of a disfigured man and his obsessive love for the young opera singer Christine Daaé recently celebrated its 25th anniversary on Broadway.



Brian De Palma's 1976 film, based on Stephen King's best-selling novel, portrayed a high-school outcast with telekinetic powers and her fateful night at the high school prom. It was first brought to Broadway in 1988 and revised for an Off-Broadway production in 2012.


Jekyll & Hyde

Robert Louis Stevenson's story follows a scientist who experiments on himself, revealing his split personalities: the upright Dr. Jekyll and the murderous villain Mr. Hyde. The duo have appeared on screen several times, and Frank Wildhorn's musical premiered on Broadway in 1997 and paid a return visit in 2013.


The Addams Family

Cartoonist Charles Addams' family made their big-screen debuts in the '90s, but they didn't take their Broadway bows until 2010 in the musical with a score by Andrew Lippa and a book by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice. The musical features the ghoulish family being thrown into turmoil when the youngest daughter falls in love with a "normal" boy.


Dracula the Musical

The famous Count from Transylvania has starred in many films, and Frank Wildhorn's musical adaptation of Bram Stoker's novel features a book and lyrics by Don Black and Christopher Hampton, mixing Gothic romance with Gothic horror.



Little Shop of Horrors

The Off-Broadway musical that opened in 1982 was based on the 1960 black comedy film "The Little Shop of Horrors," directed by Roger Corman. The film followed a down-on-his luck florist named Seymour, who encounters a new species of plant that feeds on human flesh and lures him into a world of fame, greed and murder. The musical features a score by Alan Menken and the late Howard Ashman and a book by Ashman. 


The Toxic Avenger

Based on Lloyd Kaufman's 1985 film, this musical was written by Joe DiPietro with music by David Bryan and lyrics by DiPietro and Bryan. The Toxic Avenger, which presents a love story between a blind librarian and a large, green mutant, highlights the horrors of being careless with the environment.


The Woman in Black

Susan Hill's horror novella, adapted for the stage by Stephen Mallatratt, is the second longest-running play in the history of the West End and was adapted into a 2012 film starring Daniel Radcliffe. The two-man play concerns a young solicitor who, while handling the estate of a deceased client, encounters a horrifying and vengeful ghost.


Dance of the Vampires

This 2002 musical adaptation of the 1967 Roman Polanski film of the same name featured Michael Crawford, in his first return to Broadway since The Phantom of the Opera, and Mandy Gonzalez as Sarah, the spirited Transylvanian girl who is seduced by the dark powers of Crawford's Count von Krolock. Featuring a pop score with songs like "Total Eclipse of the Heart," the short-lived musical assured audiences that "no vampires were harmed in the making of this musical."

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