With Halloween festivities fast approaching, several arts organizations are planning spooky happenings.
Neos Dance Theatre of Mansfield will have a spookfest on Halloween night with its performance of Count … The Legend of Dracula in a rundown, vacant building at 118 W. Market St., Akron. Artistic director Bobby Wesner says the spot, known as the APEX building, is uninhabitable, so it’s perfect for Dracula.
Choreographer Wesner has re-envisioned the Bram Stoker gothic horror masterpiece with the aid of videographer Andy Gardner and writer Michael Thomas for a multimedia event that combines pop, rock and industrial music with video imaging. The entire company will perform: Wesner, Brooke Wesner, Jennifer Moll Safonovs, Juliana Freude, Anna Trumbo, Katie Edmonds, Erin Buck, Theresa Bonvissuto, Ethan Lee and Jose Edwin Gonzales.
The event will include an art gallery, roaming musicians and food and drinks starting at 6 p.m. The performance will start at 8 p.m. Cost is $25 for general seating, $15 for standing room and $50 for VIP. Call 419-651-4938 or see https://neosdancetheatredracula akron.eventbrite.com.
For a totally kid-friendly option, the fur promises to fly at Magical Theatre Company’s single performance of Bunnicula Halloween night. It’s a “hare-raising” story of a “vampire bunny” that’s geared toward families. The show will be at 7:30 p.m. at 565 W. Tuscarawas Ave., Barberton.
Cast members are Adam Hoffman of Stow, Deb Lemire and Eric Lualdi of Cuyahoga Falls, Michael Pitt of Streetsboro, Matthew Taylor of North Canton, Tommy Rose of Norton and Owen McConnell of Wooster. Dennis O’Connell will direct. Cost is $9-$11. See www.magicaltheatre.org or call 330-848-3708.
Finally, the Akron Civic Theatre will offer its fourth annual “Masque of the Red Death Masquerade Party” Saturday, loosely based on Edgar Allan Poe’s short story of the same name. The doors to Prince Prospero’s castle will open for the masquerade ball at 8 p.m.
The adult Halloween event is described as macabre, artfully elegant and decadent in the haunted theater, where Shivering Timbers will perform in the Grand Lobby. The party will continue with dancing at 9 p.m. on the Civic stage. The theater’s mezzanine will be a “gypsy trail” for tarot, palm readers and psychics.
Artistic “happenings” will be presented throughout the evening by performers including Neos Dance Theatre and New World Performance Laboratory. The extravaganza, which costs from $50 to $75, includes a treasure hunt for guests to try to determine the identity of the rogue who has invited Death to the party.
Call 330-253-2488 or see www.reddeathparty.com for reservations.
The University of Akron’s E.J. Thomas Hall is celebrating its 40th anniversary with a “40 and Fabulous!” concert and party Nov. 1. Michael Cavanaugh, a Middleburg Heights native who rose to fame as the pianist and vocalist in Billy Joel’s hit Movin’ Out on Broadway, will perform with the Akron Symphony Orchestra, one of the hall’s original residents.
The program will celebrate 40 years of pop music, with children of the ’70s and ’80s like myself bound to have a blast listening to favorites by Elton John, Joel, Bruce Springsteen, James Taylor, Chicago and more. The program will go even more old-school with music of The Who, the Beatles, Simon and Garfunkel, Neil Diamond and the Monkees.
After the concert, the audience is invited to an anniversary party in the lobbies with champagne toasts, desserts, music and dancing.
Millions have attended arts and entertainment events at E.J. Thomas Hall, which was dedicated in October 1973. At the time, then-UA President Norman Auburn said: “This majestic structure will serve as a cultural bridge, linking a thriving community with a great university.”
Now, Executive Director Dan Dahl says the hall is “a hub for arts and culture for our campus and community, the region’s flagship performance venue, a powerful economic asset for downtown Akron and a catalyst for collaboration among an array of artistic and cultural organizations.”
Tickets for the concert are $36.50 to $56.50. Call 330-972-7570.
The Cuyahoga Valley Youth Ballet announced last weekend that the youth company has been renamed Ballet Excel Ohio, reflecting Artistic Director Mia Klinger’s commitment to achieving excellence in dance training while remaining steadfast in its classical ballet roots.
The company, which provides professional-level training and performance opportunities to young dancers, was founded in 1975 by Nan Klinger of the Nan Klinger Excellence in Dance Studio in Cuyahoga Falls. It was the first youth ballet in the state and is among the 10 oldest in the country.
Each spring, the company produces an original work based on children’s literature. Ballet Excel Ohio’s premieres of Tom Gold’s Beauty and the Beast and Tom Smith’s Cliques are scheduled for March 15-16, 2014 at the Akron Civic Theatre.
“This name change signifies the next stage of our growth. Ballet Excel Ohio better conveys our mission and assists in raising our visibility beyond the Cuyahoga Valley,” Mia Klinger said.
Arts writer Kerry Clawson may be reached at 330-996-3527 or firstname.lastname@example.org.