What do The Bard and an English pop-rock band from the 1980s have in common? They are the inspirations for Dan Bray’s latest Halloween mashup for The Villains Theatre’s, Madsummer: An 80s Sci-Fi Karaoke Musical.
We love Halloween and we really strive to be Halifax’s Halloween destination by doing these crazy shows every year. – Dan Bray
After tackling Shakespeare and zombies in 2019 and the Brothers Grimm in 2020, the Halifax theatre artist and playwright has set his sights on a story inspired by Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, featuring the music of Tears for Fears.
“It is loosely inspired by A Midsummer’s Night Dream, but if you didn’t know that, you wouldn’t miss anything if you came to see it,” says Bray.
Set in 1980s England, when Tears for Fears was at the height of its career, Bray says it borrows from the “wildness of Shakespeare’s love story” and “reimagines the fairy magic as the workings of a mad scientist who lives in the forest and is trying to control people’s dreams to rule the world.”
Madsummer tells the story of lovers Ramona and Seymour who, after getting lost in the forest, find themselves in the House of Dr Dream: a deranged sleep scientist who believes that the best hits of the ’80s can be used to usher forth the Greek Gods and perhaps even the end of the world.
The jukebox musical, with some comparing it to The Rocky Horror Show meets Mamma Mia!, was borne out of Bray’s “love-hate relationship” with the 80s band.
“When I was a kid, my mom used to play one of their CDs, and I remember thinking this the weirdest band,” he says. “As I got older, I realized they have all these hits that weirdly talk about sleep and dreaming, and they intuitively fed into the narrative.”
While describing it as a horror comedy, Bray also found himself influenced by the campiness of The Rocky Horror Show. “I would say that it’s more in the sci-fi realm than some of our past shows like Zomblet or Hänsel und Gretel.”
With tickets offered on a sliding scale, Bray says Madsummer is not only affordable, but it is also “a super fun Halloween experience.”
“It has quintessential horror-comedy vibes with live music,” he says. “And after each performance, we’re going to have a little karaoke party, so audience members can stick around and live out their musical fantasies.”
As self-professed Halloween junkies, Bray and his co-artistic director Colleen MacIsaac at The Villains Theatre “strive to be Halifax’s Halloween destination by doing these like crazy shows every year and we want to keep that tradition alive.”
Running at the Bus Stop Theatre (2203 Gottingen St, Halifax) from October 27 through October 30, the show will feature a costume party and contest after its final night performance. Visit tickethalifax.com for tickets and information.