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Thursday, Oct. 28, 2004 08:10 pm

backstage pass 10-28-04

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Halloween Dreams runs Friday-Sunday.

Halloween is here, and it seems that theater practitioners have decided to produce more than the usual haunted-house fare this year.

First, the Roxy Group has created an original show of its own, a musical revue titled Halloween Dreams that plays Friday-Sunday, Oct. 29-31, at the Hoogland Center for the Arts. The show, directed by Scott Richardson, features Ann Collins, Greg Donathan, Lori Ann Fahnders, John Keen, Suzanne Kell, Ed MacMurdo, Mark McCue, John O'Connor, and Shelly Simon.

"We've been wanting to stage a Halloween show like this for years, and everything finally fell into place for this year," Richardson says.

The Roxy Group presents concert versions of little-known, seldom-seen musicals -- shows that might not necessarily be given full productions in the area (some of my favorites: She Loves Me, Follies, and The Baker's Wife). The troupe is known for its painstaking research on projects, so this Halloween show will not only be entertaining, but we'll probably learn something about this favorite of holidays as well.

The Halloween revue will feature songs, magic, puppetry, and all sorts of magical illusions. In short, it's a show to bring the family to. Richardson and company have taken a look back at Halloween traditions in America, including the early 1900s and the 1930s. Perhaps the show will become a tradition. Performances are presented at 8 p.m. Friday, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday. For tickets, call 217-523-ARTS (2787).

Other performances of note:

• The local Active & Creative Teen Theatre troupe, a group of teens with a good track record of producing lively theater, presents Frankenteen, an updated sci-fi musical, at the Center for the Arts. The show runs Friday-Sunday, Oct. 29-31, and also Nov. 5-7. For tickets, call 217-523-ARTS (2787).

• The Jacksonville Theatre Guild has The Haunting of Hill House, a story of a group of people stuck overnight in a spooky haunted house. Staged by Karl Bockemeier at the Sophie Leschin Theatre in Jacksonville, Haunting runs Friday-Sunday, Oct. 29-31. For ticket information, call 217-245-1402.

• The Sangamon Auditorium brings New York City's touring Aquila Theatre Company to Springfield for a production of The Invisible Man at 7 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 31. Aquila is known for staging the Greek classics, so the performance of H.G. Wells' classic is a departure for the group. For ticket information, call 217-206-6160 or 800-207-6960.

• Next week, the University of Illinois at Springfield Theatre begins a two-week run View of the Dome, a political comedy by Theresa Rebeck that arrives just after the national election. Directed by Eric Thibodeaux-Thompson, the show -- which includes mature language and situations that are inappropriate for children -- plays Friday-Sunday, Nov. 5-7, and Nov. 12-14 in the Studio Theatre, on the lower level of the Public Affairs Center (beneath the Sangamon Auditorium).

Thibodeaux-Thompson begins his third season with the university's theater program, having staged such productions as Proof, A Lie of the Mind, and It's Only a Play. He spends a lot of time reading scripts, trying to come up with productions that will mean something to his students and the audience. He explains how he evaluates a play: "I ask myself what's going on in the world right now? What do people around me seem to be engaged and involved with? What do people in our community want to see us do? What play excites me on some level and speaks to me in terms of what I'm going through at this point in my life?" For ticket information, call 217-206-6160 or 800-207-6960.

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