Ghosts, witches, serial killers, man-eating plants, and plenty of other haunting characters have appeared in Broadway and Off-Broadway musicals over the years. These creepy types keep our hearts beating faster and our nerves on edge, and we love them for it. Throughout musical-theater history, there have also been plenty of show tunes that reflect the macabre, the spooky, the twisted, and the deranged. With Halloween creeping up on us, here are 13 show tunes that embrace the darker side. Be sure to listen with the lights on!
“The Phantom of the Opera”
From The Phantom of the Opera
The longest-running Broadway musical, The Phantom of the Opera is about a ghost obsessed with a young ingenue, kidnapping her and taking her to his underground lair where compulsory voice lessons are de rigueur. For their voyage into the Paris sewers, beyond a mammoth subterranean lake, the spooky “The Phantom of the Opera” by Andrew Lloyd Webber, Charles Hart, and Richard Stilgoe makes for haunting travel music.
“And Eve Was Weak”
The original Broadway production of Carrie gained great notoriety for being a calamitous flop, but over the last three decades, it has also earned a cult following for its score and for the horrific nature of its story. Has there ever been a Broadway musical quite so bloody and full of terror? In the show, Carrie White is entering womanhood, and instead of having a loving parent to guide her through these changes, she instead has Margaret, a religious zealot. “And Eve Was Weak” finds Mrs. White shaming her daughter for entering puberty, punishing her by locking her in a dark cellar, and praying for God to save her. The Dean Pitchford and Michael Gore number remains one of the most chilling numbers in this adaptation of the Stephen King novel.
“Kiss of the Spider Woman”
From Kiss of the Spider Woman
The Angel of Death personified, the Spider Woman looms inside the Argentine prison of the Kander and Ebb musical Kiss of the Spider Woman. Beckoning to the gay convict Molina to step into her embrace where she will plant her fatal kiss, she is both majestic and terrifying. In the musical’s title song, she stands in her web and sings this hypnotically sinister number and reminds us all that we can run, hide, and scream, but ultimately none of us can escape her kiss.
“The Whole ‘Being Dead’ Thing”
One of the best parts about Beetlejuice coming to Broadway is being able to celebrate the macabre year-round. However, this musical about death, the afterlife, ghosts, demons, a haunted house, and a litany of creepy creatures is especially perfect for the Halloween season. Composer-lyricist Eddie Perfect delivered on the deliciously dark and maudlinly comedic when he wrote the score. The musical’s opening number, “This Whole ‘Being Dead’ Thing,” tells us firmly to expect the unexpected and encourages us to embrace the gory.
From Jekyll & Hyde
A man singing a duet with himself is already a haunting premise, but it is all the more chilling when one man has split into two personalities, one of them being a monster who has found a lust for blood. In the musical Jekyll & Hyde, the altruistic Dr. Jekyll finds himself a victim of his own scientific experiment that transforms him into the violent madman Mr. Hyde. The musical adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde captures the horrific moment when a man turns on his own alter ego in the Frank Wildhorn–Leslie Bricusse song “Confrontation.”
From Little Shop of Horrors
Horror doesn’t always have to be a monster lurking around the corner or a killer wielding a bloody knife. Sometimes the commonplace and everyday can be just as frightening — like accidentally visiting a sadistic dentist who revels at drilling too far and too deep. Little Shop of Horrors is the musical and Orin Scrivello is the doctor who will be seeing to your … toothache. “Dentist,” by Howard Ashman and Alan Menken, will provide you with all you need to know of this doctor’s services.
One of the few musicals to actually address Halloween directly is the 1970 hit Applause, with a score by Lee Adams and Charles Strouse. The character of Eve Harrington, a delusional con woman who will stop at nothing to become the greatest star, recalls a certain Halloween when her father’s rejection of her costume (and, ultimately, of Eve herself) unleashed ferocity, drive, and obsessive behaviors in her that lead to an obsession with being loved. As an adult, Eve begins stalking Broadway star Margo Channing, studying her every move, in an effort to emulate her and become her ideal, and she looks back on her own father’s scorn with bitterness in “One Hallowe’en.”
From American Psycho
It’s not much of a stretch to find the horror in a musical about a serial killer who goes on a spree. American Psycho, with a score by Duncan Sheik, nails that horror. Following the story of Patrick Bateman, an investment banker with a taste for status, style, and blood, Psycho invited the audience to witness this man devolve into a monster. The song “Killing Spree” when Bateman is on a roll, enjoying murder after murder.
“Science Fiction/Double Feature”
From The Rocky Horror Show
Though the film adaptation became a cult hit, the original 1975 stage version of The Rocky Horror Show had a very short run on Broadway. That didn’t stop us all from getting on board for a trip to the castle of Dr. Frank-N-Furter, a mad scientist with a penchant for the kinkier things in life. The musical’s opening number, “Science Fiction/Double Feature,” is a tribute to the great sci-fi and horror films of yesteryear. Richard O’Brien crafted the clever invite into the world of the strange and extraordinary.
From Fiddler on the Roof
A gaggle of ghosts visit the milkman Tevye during a made-up dream in the hilariously horrific “Tevye’s Dream” by Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick, nestled in the musical Fiddler on the Roof. Unable to give bad news to his wife, Golde, about their daughter Tzeitel’s broken engagement to the butcher Lazar Wolf, Tevye lies that he had a dream in which their dead ancestors appear to him, condemning the arranged marriage. He sets up the whole story in a graveyard where these specters promise nothing but horrible things for the family if the girl is not allowed to marry the man she really loves. An especially creepy section of the song has the butcher’s dead wife, Fruma-Sarah, screeching her way across the stage with contempt.
“Just Around the Corner”
From The Addams Family
“They’re creepy and they’re kooky …” The musical based on the popular Charles Addams cartoon The Addams Family is overflowing with spooky characters fixated on death and reveling in torture. The whole show celebrates this, but the song “Just Around the Corner,” sung by matriarch Morticia, is at its most tongue-in-cheek fun. It is a warm reminder that death will eventually come and happiness is truly “just around the corner” — though corner is pronounced “coroner.” Composer-lyricist Andrew Lippa sure had fun writing this one.
“Ghosties and Ghoulies and Things That Go Bump in the Night”
From Meet Me in St. Louis
When the classic 1944 MGM movie musical Meet Me in St. Louis was adapted for the Broadway stage in 1989, additional songs were written by the composing team of Hugh Martin and Ralph Blane (who had provided the songs for the film). One of the new numbers they crafted was for an extended Halloween sequence. “Ghosties and Ghoulies and Things That Go Bump in the Night” found the two youngest members of the Smith family preparing for trick-or-treating, only to have a bit of fear put in them by the maid Katie, who prays for their safety against the monsters wandering the streets.
“The Ballad of Sweeney Todd”
From Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
No list of show tunes designed to celebrate Halloween would be complete without at least one number from the Stephen Sondheim masterpiece Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. The chilling opening, “The Ballad of Sweeney Todd,” speaks of a murderous barber who slits the throats of his customers, taking his rage out on a society and corrupt justice system that did him dirty. His victims eventually end up baked inside meat pies that are sold to the public, making Sweeney Todd easily the most grisly and horrific of all the musicals that have ever graced the Broadway stage.
Mark Robinson is the author of the two-volume encyclopedia The World of Musicals, The Disney Song Encyclopedia, and The Encyclopedia of Television Theme Songs. His forthcoming book, Sitcommentary: The Television Comedies That Changed America, will hit shelves this month. He maintains a theater and entertainment blog atmarkrobinsonwrites.com.
Information We Collect
Information we collect directly from you: Your provision of your personal information to Us is completely voluntary; it is not a statutory or contractual requirement. Personally Identifiable Information (“PII”) is information that is uniquely identifiable to you, such as your name, address, email address, phone number, credit card number and other personal information that is not otherwise publicly available. Certain features of Our website may require that you provide Us with your personal information, including:
Mobile Alert Sign-Up (SMS)
Contact Us (email)
Public forums (e.g. message boards)
E-commerce (ticket purchases)
Your use of any of the features above;
New content on Our website;
News that We think may interest you about Us;
Responses to your questions/comments to us; and
Information relating to a ticket purchase.
We may use your demographic information for in house statistics, advertising and marketing target information. Our processing of your personal information is necessary for the performance and fulfillment of the contract between us and to provide you with Our services. We will also process, transfer, disclose and preserve personal information when We have a good faith belief that doing so is necessary, to resolve disputes, enforce our agreements and otherwise required by law. You can always opt-out of receiving future promotional communications from Us; see the Choice/Opt-out section below.Information We Collect Automatically: Even if you don’t use any of the features above, when you visit Our website, We may collect certain information about you.
From your Browser. For example, Our servers keep an activity log that tracks all visitors to the website. The information in the activity log does not identify you individually. The information collected may include among other data: your IP address, your registered domain or home server, time of access, date of access, web page(s) visited, number of clicks, software crash reports, type of browser used, session identification number, search terms, search results, access times and referring website’s address. We use your IP address to help diagnose problems with Our server and to administer Our website. Your IP address is also used to gather broad demographic information, such as country of origin and geographic location. We use such data in the aggregate to run internal analyses to improve upon your experience on Our website.
Tracking Tags (also known as “web beacons,” “action tags” or “single-pixel gifs”). Our website may also use tracking tags. Tracking tags are invisible graphics embedded in the pages of Our website that are programmed to collect non-personal information about your use of Our website. Like cookies, tracking tags provide overall usage patterns for Our website that We use for analysis and to provide personalized services and advertising content.
We comply with the Self-Regulatory Principles for Online Behavioral Advertising set forth by the Digital Advertising Alliance (DAA). You can opt-out of targeted advertising from certain providers at www.aboutads.info/consumers.
How We Use Your Personal Information
The personal information We collect allows Us to keep you posted on updates to Broadway Direct. It also helps Us to improve Our services, content, and advertising. If you don’t want to be on Our email list, you can opt out anytime by clicking the “unsubscribe” button or sending an unsubscribe email to [email protected]. From time to time, We may use your personal information to send transactional emails, such as communications about purchases and changes to Our terms, conditions, and policies. Because this information is important to your interaction with Broadway Direct, you may not opt out of receiving these communications. We may also use personal information for internal purposes such as auditing, data analysis, and research to improve Broadway Direct’s services, and customer communications. If you enter into a sweepstakes, contest, or similar promotion We may use the information you provide to administer those programs.
Information Collected By/Shared With Third Parties
Third Parties Doing Work for Us. Third parties have no rights to use any data We have collected on your behalf. However, We may employ other companies or individuals to perform functions on Our behalf, such as sending postal mail, email, and text messages, conducting sweepstakes/contests, prize fulfillment and promotional activities, analyzing data, providing marketing assistance, processing credit card payments and providing customer service. These outside suppliers, agents and vendors have access to your personal information only as needed to perform their functions.
Third Parties with Links from Our Website. From our website, you may be able to click on links to third party sites to buy tickets and merchandise and for other purposes. These third party sites may collect information, including personal information. We are not responsible for, nor do we have access to the information they collect. The collection of this information is governed by the privacy policies on the applicable third party sites.
Social Networking Services. Our website may integrate with social networking services. We do not control such services and are not liable for the manner in which they operate. While we may provide you with the ability to use such services in connection with our website, we are doing so merely as an accommodation and, like you, are relying upon those third party services to operate properly and fairly.
When necessary. We may also release personal information when we believe, in good faith, that such release is reasonably necessary to protect the rights, property or safety of Ourselves, Our clients, Our users, or others. We may disclose personal information about you to law enforcement, other government officials, or other third parties, as We, in our sole discretion, believe necessary or appropriate, in connection with an investigation of fraud, intellectual property infringement, or other activity that is illegal or may expose Us to legal liability.
Transactions With Third Party E-commerce Partners, Vendors and Advertisers
Delivery of Advertising and Other Content
In addition to ads and content that We may serve you directly, We use third-party advertising companies and marketing services companies to serve ads and other content when you visit Broadway Direct and elsewhere on the internet and in other media. Both We and these companies may use information about your visits to Broadway Direct and elsewhere to serve ads and other content to you. In the course of doing so, a unique third-party cookie may be placed or recognized on your browser by such companies. In addition, We and these companies may use Web beacons to help manage Our online advertising and content. These Web beacons enable Us and the third-party companies to recognize a browser’s cookie when a browser visits this Site and to learn which banner ads bring users to our website and to serve you ads that you may find of interest elsewhere on the internet and in other media. Both Broadway Direct and these companies may use information obtained from your visits to Broadway Direct or other websites, and information received from you offline in order to provide advertisements about goods and services and other content of interest to you across the internet and in other media. If you would like more information about this practice and to know your choices about not having this information used in this manner by Our third party advertising companies, please visit http://www.networkadvertising.org/optout_nonppii.asp and/or www.aboutads.info/choices. European users may opt out of receiving targeted advertising by visiting http://www.youronlinechoices.eu/. In addition, we may provide PII and Anonymous Information to marketing services companies. This may include information we received from you offline or online. These companies may combine information we provide (including PII and Anonymous Information) with personal and anonymous information they may have about you, using cookies they place or that We place on their behalf, as described in the section regarding “Cookies and Tracking Tags”. We require these companies to delete the PII we provide them. These companies may use the resulting non-personal information and such cookies for their own marketing purposes, and they may provide the same to their customers for their customer’s marketing purposes. Some of Our emails may contain tags that allow Us and Our advertisers and other partners to determine the types of content that may be of interest to you. Those tags may contain PII and may be shared with others to the same extent indicated in the section regarding “Cookies and Tracking Tags”. Those tags may not be deleted but you can opt out of receiving the emails.
Use of This Site by Children
The Site is not directed to individuals under the age of thirteen (13), and We request that such individuals do not provide personal information through the Site. If a parent or guardian becomes aware that his or her child has provided Us with PII without the parent or guardian’s consent by, for example, misrepresenting his or her age, that parent or guardian should contact us at [email protected]. If Broadway Direct determines that it has collected personal information of children under the age of 13, Broadway Direct will immediately delete such information and any accounts believed to be held by children under 13. In addition, we may not collect or process information from a citizen of an EU member state under the age of sixteen (16) without such person’s parental consent. If you are a citizen of an EU member state under the age of 16, please tell your parents that you are using the Site and have your parents email Us at [email protected] so that We may delete any information We may have collected about you.
California Civil Code § 1798.83 permits California residents to request information about whether we have disclosed personal information to any third parties for the third parties’ direct marketing purposes. California residents have the right to request in writing: (a) a list of the categories of Personal Information, such as name, email address and mailing address and the type of services provided to the customer that a business has disclosed to third parties (including affiliates that are separate legal entities) during the immediately preceding calendar year for the third parties’ direct marketing purposes and (b) the names and addresses of all such third parties. To make a request, please contact Us at the following email address: [email protected].
Rights of EU Data Subjects
If you are a resident of the European Union, under the GDPR, European Union residents, as data subjects, have the following rights:
Right to access – This right allows individuals to obtain confirmation as to whether or not personal information concerning him or her is being processed and provide access to such personal information. It also allows individuals to request details of the processing of his or her personal information, including, without limitation, categories of recipients to whom the personal information have been or will be disclosed and purposes of processing.
Right to rectify – This right allows individuals to rectify any inaccurate personal information about him or her.
Right to restrict processing – This right allows individuals to block or suppress processing of personal data under certain circumstances.
Right to be forgotten – This right is also known as the “right to erasure”. It is an individual’s right to have personal data erased or to prevent processing in specific circumstances.
Right of data portability – This right allows individuals to move, copy or transfer personal data from one place to another in a secure manner without interrupting the integrity and usability of the information.
Right to object to processing – This right allows individuals to object to certain types of processing, including direct marketing, profiling and providing for purposes of scientific or historical research and statistics.
An EU resident has the right to access his or her personal data that We hold and to ask that their personal data be corrected or erased and to port their data. An EU resident may also have the right to object to, or request that We restrict certain processing or to withdraw consent previously provided. If you would like to exercise your rights under the GDPR, please contact us at [email protected]. If you are an EU resident and have a concern about our processing of your personal data that we are not able to resolve, you have the right to lodge a complaint with the Data Protection Authority where you reside. For contact details of your relevant local Data Protection Authority, please see http://ec.europa.eu/newsroom/article29/item-detail.cfm?item_id=612080
Security of Your Personal Information
Broadway Direct employs reasonable security measures consistent with standard industry practice, for personal information collected through this Site, including physical, electronic and operational measures to maintain security and prevent unauthorized access. While Broadway Direct takes all appropriate steps to safeguard personal information under Our control, unfortunately, no data transmission over the Internet or method of storing data can be guaranteed to be 100% secure. As such, We cannot guarantee that personal information supplied by users will not be accessed on Our servers, or intercepted while being transmitted to Us over the Internet. We assume no liability for any damages you may suffer as a result of interception, alteration or misuse of information during such transfers.
We will retain your information for as long as your account or inquiry is active and for a reasonable time thereafter in accordance with Our standard procedures or as necessary to comply with Our legal obligations, to resolve disputes, and to enforce Our agreements. Even if We delete some or all of your Personal Information, We may continue to retain and use aggregate or anonymous data previously collected and/or anonymize or aggregate your Personal Information. Please note that We will not be liable for disclosures of your data due to errors or unauthorized acts of third parties.
This Site provides users the opportunity to opt-out of receiving communications from Us, at any time, by email at [email protected], or by clicking the unsubscribe link in any email communication. The Site gives users the following options for removing their information from our database, to not receive future communications or to no longer receive our service, at any time.
Users can send mail to the following postal address: Broadway Direct 1501 Broadway 14th floor New York, NY 10036
Users can call the following telephone number: (800) 223-6715.
Users can opt-out of receiving future newsletter emails from Us by selecting the “unsubscribe” link at the bottom of our email. However, We are not responsible for removing your information from the lists of any third party who has previously been provided with your information or is collecting your information through their cookies. You have the right to withdraw your consent for Our processing for your personal information by contacting us at [email protected].
This website gives users the following options for changing and modifying information previously provided, at any time.
Users can send mail to the following postal address: Broadway Direct 1501 Broadway 14th floor New York, NY 10036
Users can call the following telephone number: (800) 223-6715
In the event that We are, or any component of our operations is, merged with, or is acquired by, another entity, then any such successor or acquiring entity may become the successor to Our obligations with respect to the personal information that you have provided to Us, which would be necessary for the entity to effectively continue our business. By using this website, you consent to any transfer and use of such personal information by an entity assuming control of Our operations as a result of a merger, purchase of assets, or liquidation in bankruptcy or insolvency.