Do you have any American examples of plays and musicals that were good at scaring people? Most of the examples I saw in your post were British.
Whoops! I haven’t seen much theatre since getting back to the States, so my brain archives are mostly British.
Besides the price of Hamilton tickets -
Sound: The original Broadway production of Sweeney Todd is infamous for the work whistle. You never except that whistle at the beginning of the production and it makes you jump at least 20 feet in the air. Whenever I listen to the cast recording and I’m not paying attention, I scare myself.
Staging: The ending of Sweeney is filled with tension and makes your heart beat faster. The original was staged so masterfully! SPOILERS HERE: when Sweeney discovers Johanna in his shop, he doesn’t know who she is. Thinking she’s another enemy, he tries to kill her. We, the audience, know who she is - giving us a heavy dose of dramatic irony. Plus, the tension is causing our hearts to beat 10x faster since we are unsure if he’s going to be successful. When he doesn’t succeed, we get a moment of relief but then our attention is cast to Mrs. Lovett and the cycle starts again. You can watch the Broadway version of Sweeney Todd on YouTube. (I hate the movie version, so don’t even talk to me about it)
Another example of staging frightening the audience was the production of Julius Caesar at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater. Brutus is experiencing a moment alone in his room during the war when the suddenly the lights dim and the Ghost of Caesar appears before him drenched in blood. Creepy indeed.
Shakespeare’s ghosts are always fun to stage. I love the British staging of Macbeth with Patrick Stewart and the Banquo reveal. But since this is about American Theatre…another time :(
Set: The production of the Birds at the Guthrie Theatre in Minnesota used to the set to create a few mild jump scares. People backstage would pound on boarded up windows to the mimic the effects of the crazy birds trying to get into the house.
These shows are mentioned to be pretty scary, even though I haven’t seen them: Play Dead (off-Broadway), The Pillowman, Ghost Stories, The Weir, and Misery.
Your humble engineer has accepted a full time position at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis, MN as one of the house Audio Engineers. This blog and I are prepping to head North 500+ miles! An incredible opportunity presented itself and I am jumping at the chance to go be a part of some amazing theater.
The techblr community is full of some great and talented artists. I appreciate everyone who had followed me thus far, I hope you will stick around for new adventures, shows, pictures. I am very excited to get my feet on the ground in Minneapolis and start mixing in these new theater spaces.
AUGUST 3, 2016 - 216/366 THE “AMBER BOX” AT THE GUTHRIE
There are so many things to love about the Guthrie Theater, but perhaps my favorite thing is the Dowling Studio Lobby, aka the Amber Box. It’s a beautiful space, unlike anywhere else I’ve ever been. When you’re in this 9-floor glassy space you have an amazing view of the Mississippi River and St. Anthony Falls—the birthplace of Minneapolis—but because the glass is such a strong amber color, your view is distorted and otherworldly. It’s one of the first places I’ll bring an out-of-town guest because it’s uniquely Minneapolis.