Halloween Revelry in the Garden State

By Susan Wallner

Something Wicked This Way Comes at the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey.

Halloween has become a big holiday for adults as well as children, in part because it’s creative, fun, and totally optional. You can dress up, decorate and go on a spooky night out –- if you feel like it –- with few of the pressures many of us feel during other holidays.

Selected events with an artistic twist from around the state are featured in the Halloween Event Guide on Favorites include masquerade balls and pumpkin carving, and there are what might be called new seasonal offerings, such as the Rocky Horror Picture Show (on stage and screen), and the Dracula ballet.

In Madison, the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey has started its own tradition, a night of haunted storytelling called Something Wicked This Way Comes (after a line from Shakespeare’s Macbeth). Actors read stories underscored by theremin music played by John Hoge. For those unfamiliar with the sci-fi sound of the theremin, let it be said that it is the only musical instrument played with no physical contact. “This event has sold-out for the past two years,” says Artistic Director Bonnie J. Monte, “and we are thrilled to present the third annual Something Wicked This Way Comes with a brand new line-up of classic ghost stories and tales of horror.” This one night only event takes place Monday evening, October 29.

Serving drinks at the Rats Masquerade Ball.

Rats Restaurant at Grounds for Sculpture in Hamilton is well known as one of the most elegant dining experiences in New Jersey. On Friday, October 26, they are taking reservations for their annual Masquerade Ball. Although costumes are not required, General Manager Richard Moscovitz says that you will feel out of place not wearing one. The staff wears costumes as well, from bartenders and servers to the head chef. This year, the buffet will be presented in the kitchen – made a bit more unusual by the absence of electric lights. In fact, hundreds and hundreds of candles fill the entire restaurant, providing the only illumination. The evening begins at cocktail hour with a complimentary Witches’ Brew, and continues through the wee hours with the Haunted Nightclub. Moscovitz says that people return year after year for the revelry, with amazing costumes – such as last year’s dead captain of the Titanic, complete with salt encrusted beard.

In Cape May, there are not one, but two Edgar Allan Poe offerings. The great master of the macabre is also the inventor of the detective genre. Poe created the first fictional detective, Le Chevalier C. Auguste Dupin, whose greatest cases have been adapted by James Rana in The Poe Mysteries, presented by the East Lynne Theater Company from October 24-28. Then for another helping, Poe, Times Two can be seen at the Cape May Stage October 31 – November 16. This double bill of short one-man plays features two of Poe’s classic horror stories, The Cask of Amontillado and The Black Cat. Jersey Arts Ticket Members take note – there’s a “Buy One/Get One Free” offer for select performances of Poe, Times Two.

For more on these and other mysterious, macabre, or morbid opportunities for creative souls in New Jersey, check out the Halloween Event Guide on

Susan Wallner is an award-winning producer with PCK Media. She is a long-time contributor to State of the Arts, now airing on NJTV Sundays at 8 pm.