A scene from 'The Spirit Play'
HIDE AND GO SEEK Catch Strange Tree Group’s The Spirit Play, on stage now at
DCA Storefront Theater.


Don’t-miss picks for Wed 10.26.11 through Tue 11.01.11:


theatre The Spirit Play
This latest foray into the metaphysical macabre from Emily Schwartz—the Strange Tree Group’s fearless leader and chief playwright, as well as its in-house Edward Gorey aficionado—investigates the occult in Victorian-era Chicago. Schwartz spent a year researching turn-of-the-century séances for her world premiere. Read what happened when Chicago sent her and three fellow playwrights to have their own fortunes told in advance of the fall theatre season, then see the drama unfold.
GO: Through 11/6. $15–$20. Strange Tree Group at DCA Storefront Theater, 66 E Randolph. strangetree.org. BONUS: For a free related event, see “What I’m Doing This Weekend,” below.

ALSO THIS WEEK: A haunted house for big ghouls and boys: In First Folio Theatre’s interactive Searching for Peabody’s Tomb, theatregoers prowl the historic Mayslake Peabody Estate on the hunt for the spirit of the real-life coal magnate F. S. Peabody, now through 10/31.


concerts Alien Queen
Get ready to dance along when this underground extravaganza—think of it as a jukebox musical dedicated to the band Queen, as performed by characters from the movie Alien—returns to Metro. Sort of like Pink Floyd meets The Wizard of Oz, except live. And even weirder.
GO: 10/28 at 10. $16–$20. Metro, 3730 N Clark. metrochicago.com


theatre Musical of the Living Dead
Just what it sounds like. When the first three rows are designated as the “splatter zone,” you can expect more blood and guts than Serious Acting—which is how things should be when most of the cast is zombies.
GO: Through 11/12. $20–$25. Cowardly Scarecrow Theatre Company at the Charnel House, 3421 W Fullerton. musicalofthelivingdead.com


tours Pullman DÍa de los Muertos Altar Walk
Wrapping up Chicago Artists Month, this stroll takes participants inside seven historic homes in the Pullman neighborhood to view residents’ personal ofrendas, or altars. While Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is traditionally celebrated by the Hispanic community (check out next week’s Chicago Guide for free goings-on at the National Museum of Mexican Art), the Far South Side enclave of Pullman has adopted the holiday—half nod to the departed, half carnivalesque celebration of life—as its own.
GO: 10/30 from 4 to 7. $12–$15. Start at the Bullen residence, 619 E 111th. pullman-museum.org

ALSO THIS WEEK: Raise an ale-oween toast to Chicago’s bike community when The Chainlink hosts a Halloween party 10/28 at Galway Arms that doubles as a stop on the monthly Critical Mass ride. Five bucks gets you admission, one Half Acre beer, and two raffle tickets.


film Universal Horror @ Music Box
Get a year’s worth of chills in two nights when the Music Box screens the tail end of its weeklong series of classic flicks from Universal Studios’ horror heyday. Wednesday features Elsa Lanchester and Boris Karloff in1935’s The Bride of Frankenstein at 7, plus regular old Frankenstein at 5:30 and 8:45; Thursday, it’s 1934’s mind-bogglingly bizarre The Black Cat at 5:30 (honeymooners! Hungary! Satan worshipping!) and 1948’s Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein at 7.
GO: Universal Horror runs through 10/27. See website for full schedule. $10 per film. Music Box Theatre, 3733 N Southport. musicboxtheatre.com

ALSO THIS WEEK: Wicker Park hosts its own three-day fright fest with indoor screenings of The Mummy, The Mummy Returns, and Abbott & Costello Meet the Mummy, 10/28–30. Meanwhile, Linda Blair signs autographs prior to showings of her tour de force in what is still the scariest movie ever, The Exorcist, 10/28–31 at the Hollywood Palms Cinema locations in Naperville and Woodbridge.


Ursula Bielski, paranormal historian, author, and founder of the ghost-tour outfit Chicago Hauntings
Ursula Bielski

Up next in our series of weekend plans from notable, in-the-know locals—a.k.a. people we like: the paranormal historian, author, and founder of the ghost-tour outfit Chicago Hauntings, Ursula Bielski, who gives a free talk—with magic!—on Victorian-era mentalism in Chicago tonight at 7 at DCA Storefront Theater. You can also hear Bielski tell ghost stories in the Museum of Science and Industry’s rotunda 10/29 at 1.

FRIDAY: “Friday is one of my only days off this month, and I’m very excited to go over to the Portage Theater. They have a program called Halloween Havoc, and they show movies every night of the last week of October every year. Friday, they have a costume contest and they have vendors set up in the lobby selling films and collectibles and memorabilia—all kinds of stuff. They’re showing my favorite movie, the original version of The Haunting from 1963, which is based on Shirley Jackson’s novel The Haunting of Hill House.”

SATURDAY: “We’ve just filmed a pilot, The Hauntings of Chicago, so we’re hoping it will become a weekly series. It’s going to air on Saturday at 6 p.m. on WYCC Channel 20, and it will be rebroadcast on Halloween night at 9 p.m. We’re having a big premiere party at Chet’s Melody Lounge [in the southwest suburb of Justice], which is right across from Resurrection Cemetery, famously associated with the ghost Resurrection Mary. The story about her is that she was picked up one winter’s night by a cabdriver, and she directed him to turn into the parking lot there at the bar. She told him she needed to go inside and get cab fare, but she never came out. After a while, he came in to get his money, and the bartender told him that no one had come in all night.”

SUNDAY: “My friend Willy Adkins, who’s a filmmaker, has a production company called Spook Show Entertainment. They host the Chicago Horror Film Festival at the Portage every year. They’re opening their new office and studio in DeKalb on Sunday, and they’re having an open house for talent: anybody interested in acting, promotional stuff, or horror films. So, we’re going out there, and then we’ll head back to have a Halloween party with a house full of nine-year-olds.” —As told to Jennifer Swann


galleries Blaque Lyte
No Halloween costume necessary; just wear something white when the Hyde Park Art Center throws a party for this new exhibit, a group show of artwork that glows under the infrareds. The reception is only one event in the center’s daylong (if somewhat misnamed) Mischief Night, featuring a roster of hands-on, family-friendly performances and activities, including a zombification station and a DIY art project involving stage blood.
GO: Blaque Lyte reception: 10/29 from 5 to 8. Mischief Night: 10/29 from 1 to 10. Hyde Park Art Center, 5020 S Cornell. hydeparkart.org

museums Crime Unseen
Can places where ugly things transpire be beautiful? Discuss when the Museum of Contemporary Photography hosts a talk and party for its new exhibit blurring the lines between journalism, forensics, and fine-art photography. The shots of the Unabomber’s cabin and of gruesome 1940s dollhouses used to train police detectives—chairs overturned, blood spatters on the wall—give us goose bumps.
GO: Talk with artists Christian Patterson and Angela Strassheim and curator Karen Irvine: 10/27 from 4 to 5; reception from 5 to 7. Crime Unseen continues through 1/15. Museum of Contemporary Photography, 600 S Michigan. mocp.org


Photography: (THE SPIRIT PLAY) Tyler Core; (BIELSKI) Billy Cam