Scare the Audience With These Halloween Plays

She's reached the end of her rope!
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Most Halloween productions are playful spoofs of worn out movie monsters. Although campy shows are a blast, there is nothing quite like getting creeped out by a diabolically bone-chilling play.

It is an immense challenge for a playwright to generate true fear within the audience. These monstrous masterpieces rise to the occasion. You might consider them for performance by your theater troupe.


There are many watered-down stage adaptations of Brom Stoker's vampire epic. However, Hamilton Deane and John L. Balderston's version remains true to the original novel by Bram Stoker. This version was first performed in 1924 and was the first authorized adaptation by Bram Stoker's widow. John Balderston edited it for American audiences in 1927. The setting of the play is in England, where Count Dracula is now living. Mina (who was Lucy in the novel) has died and her father, Dr. Seward, unknowingly has the vampire sleeping under his house. Bela Lugosi got his first major English-speaking role as Count Dracula in the Broadway production and went on to perform in the film.


A mixture of tragedy, horror, and science-fiction, Mary Shelley's amazing novel inspired scores of stage productions. Audiences are still waiting for the perfect adaptation, but so far Alden Nowlan's 1976 script nearly hits the mark. It uses direct quotes from the novel for some of the dialog. It has a cast size of 13, with 11 male and two female roles. It is appropriate for performance by high school, college, community theater, and professional theater.

Sweeney Todd

What's more terrifying than a mad barber trying to kill you? Try a murderously mad barber who bursts into song. This Stephen Sondheim operetta combines a beautiful score with a bloody razor blade and the result is a haunting theatrical experience. It was first produced in 1979 and has enjoyed many revivals in London and on Broadway. The original story comes from penny dreadfuls fiction of the mid-1800s, but it was Christopher Bond and Sondheim who transformed it for the stage. It rates an R rating and should be performed by and for mature audiences.


This classic play has every element of horror: Witches, dark premonitions, murder, a psychopathic wife. Shakespeare created something so terrifying that thespians won't even say the name of "the Scottish play" while inside the theater. It has long been popular for school productions as well as community and professional theaters. Double, double toil, and trouble, indeed.

The Woman in Black

For those who want to venture into the realm of truly frightful theatre, this supernatural tale is a must see. An English town is haunted by a ghost who appears when a child will die. Originally performed in England during the late 1980s, it has since been produced by daring theatre companies across Europe and North America. The playwright Susan Hill published it in 1983, and the stage play was adapted by Stephen Mallatratt. It has been one of the longest productions in London's West End. Many critics have proclaimed that "The Woman in Black" is certain to frighten audiences.

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Bradford, Wade. "Scare the Audience With These Halloween Plays." ThoughtCo, Aug. 27, 2020, Bradford, Wade. (2020, August 27). Scare the Audience With These Halloween Plays. Retrieved from Bradford, Wade. "Scare the Audience With These Halloween Plays." ThoughtCo. (accessed January 28, 2021).