BWW Review: GHOULMASTER'S HAUNTED PLAYHOUSE Offers Outrageously Original Halloween Experience

BWW Review: GHOULMASTER'S HAUNTED PLAYHOUSE Offers Outrageously Original Halloween Experience

Another outrageous original Halloween production has come out of New Jersey. For several years at 6 Flags in the Garden State, Pete Carter developed the character of The Ghoulmaster and his production of "Ghoulmaster's Ghosts" ran for 6 seasons at Six Flags Great Adventure's Fright Fest in Jackson, New Jersey. It was hugely successful and grew into one of Fright Fest's most popular shows. Ghoulmaster's cult-like following grew with his message of acceptance, anti-bullying, and making your dreams a reality. His bizarre androgynous appearance appeals to anyone who ever felt like a misfit, a weirdo, or a freak, especially those of us who celebrate Halloween all year round.

Ready to take the show on the road to Hollywood, earlier this year Pete and his fellow Fright Fest creator Charles Convery moved to Burbank and, through their Kickstarter campaign, raised $30,000 in 30 days. This allowed the two super creative friends to create GHOULMASTER'S HAUNTED PLAYHOUSE, now onstage at the Hudson Theater in Hollywood through (appropriately) October 31, created by Pete Carter, written, costumed and produced by Pete Carter and Charles Convery, presented by 1984 Entertainment, LLC. Featured in the show are Ghoulmaster, Charles Convery, Luca Nicora, Sarah Wins, Lauren Avon, Bre Lyle, Heather Mackay, Sarah Louise, Devin Freeman, Joanne Pollitt Evans and Sam Centrella, each of whom bring their often somewhat familiar yet freakishly other-worldly characters into the most brilliantly original production I have seen this year. Don't miss it!

Pete Carter describes the project as "Rocky Horror" meets "Pee Wee's Playhouse" - an intimate black box theater experience that is guaranteed to bring Halloween magic and nostalgia to all who dare to enter. Carter fully embodies the Ghoulmaster, an eccentric, reclusive showman who chooses to live his fantasy life as if he were horror royalty. He is like the love child of Elvira and an 80's pop star Dracula, with his main goal being to stimulate all the senses of his Playhouse guests. And trust me, from the moment you walk into the spooky, fog-filled theater, you will know you are in for quite a treat as the Ghoulmaster, along with his loyal freaks and goblins, opens the door to his secret Haunted Playhouse where he seeks to re-create his family's secret formula that will guarantee the continuation of Halloween each year.

Carter's incredible stage aura will pull you into his Gothic Gene Simmons inspired Ghoulmaster persona, along with his super talented assortment of followers whose athletic choreography will amaze and dazzle you. Gimmicky shtick abounds with many nods to old horror movies and TV science fiction programs via videos as well as dialogue, generating knowing groans as well as howling laughs of appreciation.

Carter's production partner Charles Convery joins the onstage fun as the quirky and often horrific Mailman as well as several of the hysterical puppets who appear throughout the show. Convery admits he could not keep up with the acrobatic dancing so perfectly executed by the ensemble, so he instead plays the most "normal" of the characters - until he isn't, as noted by Teddy Blackmore's blood red spotlight design.

Each of these ghoulish misfits ignite the Halloween spirit, beginning with Grimwall, the Ghoulmaster's loyal but slow-moving and spooky Butler, played to perfection by Luca Nicora who stepped into the role just one week prior to opening. Slightly resembling Riff Raff, you will cringe with anticipation each time he stumbles to answer the door as you wonder what horror waits from beyond the portal. There is a moment in the play where he insists the audience play along with him and close their eyes. When he confronted them later about what they may have seen, his impeccable improv skills make each performance completely different in they the scene plays out, and I was happy to be a part of it on the night I attended.

Sarah Wines and Lauren Avon portray Ghoulmaster's two sexy handmaidens Pumpkin and Spice, both being the most limber dancers in the ensemble numbers. Adding in even more eye candy are his other servants, Tink (Bre Lyle, a purple sprite who pops in and out from the most unexpected spots) and Alice the always silent Maid (Heather Mackay, whose feather duster gets used for more than just cleaning - watch her closely!).

The ghostly ensemble quartet includes Sarah Louise as high class old Hollywood slut Lula Larsenic, Devin Freeman as Lucias E. Jackson (think James Brown and Prince rolled into one with a touch of Michael Jackson), Joanne Pollitt Evans as the Mary Poppins gone bad nanny Sherry Goblins, and Sam Cwntrella as wise-cracking, oversexed Italian-American hood Johnny Jaywalker. All four characters are well-defined individuals in all aspects of their individual performances and a joy to behold in all their comical badness.

The production features an original score by Santino Noir, Teddy Blackmore, Brett Line, PJ9K and Mike Dovaire, with Scenic design by Charles Convery and incredible make-up by Laney Chantal White. This show has everything - an incredible cast, original music, dance, comedy, magic, blood, puppets, cobwebs, g-strings...and glitter. It's certain to be a month-long costume party and all Playhouse guests are encouraged to dress to depress - The Stranger the Better! No judgments handed out here folks... trust me - everyone will fit right in with the true spirit of Halloween no matter what kind of monster you really are or decide to be - go for it and have a riotously spooky time!

GHOULMASTER'S HAUNTED PLAYHOUSE will haunt an audience of 99 at The Hudson Theatre Mainstage (6539 Santa Monica Blvd. Hollywood, 90038) every weekend through October 31 on Fri. and Sat 8pm, Sunday 7pm. Tickets are $25 in advance and $30 at the door and available at www.plays411/ghoulmaster or by calling 323.960.7724. Check online site for special discounted performances. To learn more about Ghoulmaster: www.ghoulmaster.com.

Watch a promo for the show below!

high res photos

BWW Review: GHOULMASTER'S HAUNTED PLAYHOUSE Offers Outrageously Original Halloween Experience
Pete Carter is the Ghoulmaster

BWW Review: GHOULMASTER'S HAUNTED PLAYHOUSE Offers Outrageously Original Halloween Experience
The Cast: Standing from left: Luca Nicora, Lauren Avon, Ghoulmaster, Sarah Wines, Sarah Louise, Joanne Pollitt Evans, Sam Centrella. Seated from left: Devin Freeman, Bre Lyle, Charles Convery

Photo by Patrizia Barretto

BWW Review: GHOULMASTER'S HAUNTED PLAYHOUSE Offers Outrageously Original Halloween Experience
Lighting effects by Teddy Blackmore

BWW Review: GHOULMASTER'S HAUNTED PLAYHOUSE Offers Outrageously Original Halloween Experience

BWW Review: GHOULMASTER'S HAUNTED PLAYHOUSE Offers Outrageously Original Halloween Experience
Ghoulmaster's sexy servants

BWW Review: GHOULMASTER'S HAUNTED PLAYHOUSE Offers Outrageously Original Halloween Experience
Co-creator Charles Convery plays the Mailman

BWW Review: GHOULMASTER'S HAUNTED PLAYHOUSE Offers Outrageously Original Halloween Experience

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From This Author Shari Barrett

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