This year I was lucky enough to be asked to co-produce a Tim Burton inspired show for Halloween – Graveyard Cabaret. I did a couple numbers last year in the Halloween show put on by the local Cabaret group the Kit Kat Club. While I was discussing ideas with them I mentioned that I had always wanted to do a Tim Burton inspired show for Halloween. Well the idea stuck and that’s what we did.
And it was most excellent. Easily one of the best Halloween variety shows I’ve seen.
My favorite Tim Burton movies are Beetlejuice, Corpse Bride, Big Fish, and Nightmare Before Christmas (not that I don’t love all of the others as well) so I started re-watching movies for inspiration. Here’s what I came up with:
There’s the scene where Beetlejuice is in the miniature model of the town harassing the Maitland’s and their caseworker Juno distracts him with a devil themed strip club: Dante’s Inferno Room. Since we were doing a cabaret show I thought it would be awesome to do a dance like he might see in Dante’s Inferno Room.
I found some awesome music – Take Your Skin off and Dance by Martin Martini and the Bone Palace Orchestra – and three of us put together a sexy devilette number.
You can see some of our awesome graveyard set in some of those.
From Corpse Bride: There was an awesome number by Bonejangles and the Bone Boys where the tell the story of how the corpse bride came to be. The song is called Remains of the Day.
I decided that I wanted to do a black light skeleton tap dance to this song. Unfortunately tap dance isn’t my specialty and I wasn’t able to do all the choreography myself, so I enlisted the expertise of my talented friend Aly Cardinalli for some help with the choreography. It also took awhile to find tap dancers – they are a dying breed.
Since it was black light we also had a ninja come in with some props here and there.
There’s some ghosts in the background of the first picture and a veil, “the family jewels” and a “satchel of gold” in the second.
I had never done a black light number before and it was very interesting to do. I wish we had had more time to work on how we looked in the black light since the skeleton was only on the front part of the costume. There’s a couple places where it was hard to see some of what we were doing.
Inspired by Big Fish: Since I had decided last year that there would be no Thriller this year I decided to do a group circus number to make up for it.
I found the most fabulous song by Vermillion Lies called Circus Apocalypse. It was awesome and creepy and the words were all about joining the circus, but you have to die first. Just perfect for a Tim Burton Cabaret.
So I put together a group and did a creepy circus dance with acrobats, clowns, a bearded lady, a strong man, lion and lion tamer, a knife thrower, a tightrope walker (me!) and of course, a ring master.
I made my tightrope walker costume – it’s the only costume I made for this show which is very weird for me.
From Nightmare Before Christmas: As a group we sang a portion of This is Halloween to open the show. We were onstage with just flashlights so I don’t have any pictures of that.
Our finale was to Jump in the Line by Harry Belafonte – which of course you remember from Beetlejuice. I made some skull maracas for the finale:
We had a lot of fun decorating the stage and coming up with a set for the show. Not only did we have the lovely graveyard, but we also had a tree, a coffin filled with a skeleton orchestra (you can see them in the photo of the ringmaster and the strong man above), and a coffin entrance:
That’s the tree next to the coffin entrance – it had a false back so you could go through the coffin.
I also decorated some bottles to use a vases:
The bottles were painted with spray paint then decorated with puff paint. The vase was just lined with puff paint – I had originally planned on making the lines straight, but that didn’t work out, and I think it looks even better with the squiggly lines.
I also made what I am now referring to as “noddle plants” since they were made from pool noodles:
I cut out spirals from the noodles and shoved them into cross-sections of the noodles for the base. Then I spray painted them. On some I added some puff paint for extra color. I hot glued them together and had to hot glue the whole thing on a small piece of plywood because they were too light and didn’t want to stay standing.
Apparently I didn’t take any close up pictures of them completed. Here’s some cropped out of other photos from the show – oops:
They were stuck in among all the tombstones in the graveyard:
It really was an awesome show.
Photo credits: Jack Grace Photography