Performance & Entertainment Venue

Oh, the horror! Wichita’s stages scare up some laughs for Halloween

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Keely Connolly, Justin Ralph, Damian Padilla, Meredith Hollan and Angela Geer star in Roxy Downtown’s production “Evil Dead: The Musical,“ which combines horror and laughs. Fernando Salazar The Wichita Eagle

Keely Connolly, Justin Ralph, Damian Padilla, Meredith Hollan and Angela Geer star in Roxy Downtown’s production “Evil Dead: The Musical,“ which combines horror and laughs. Fernando Salazar The Wichita Eagle

BY BOB CURTRIGHT

Eagle correspondent

September 25, 2015 02:47 PM

What do you get when you take a rowdy bunch of college kids pursued by demons in an abandoned cabin, stir in a man-eating plant and Mrs. Bates’ murderous mama’s boy, Norman, and top it all off with time-warping, cross-dressing extraterrestrials?

What you get is the Halloween season on Wichita’s live theater stages.

Roxy’s Downtown is conjuring up “Evil Dead: The Musical,” the Forum Theatre is visiting “Little Shop of Horrors,” Crown Uptown Theatre is rocking out to “The Rocky Horror Show,” and Mosley Street Melodrama is checking into “Hitchcock’s Psycho Hotel.”

All the shows feature a mix of horror and humor, pitting shudders against snickers, gore against guffaws, chills against chuckles. And some say the combo intensifies an audience’s enjoyment of both precisely because of the contrast.

“They’re a natural pair, like salty and sweet. They work well together. They enhance each other,” says J.R. Hurst, a longtime local actor who wrote and directed the original melodrama “Hitchcock’s Psycho Hotel,” which runs through Oct. 31 at Mosley Street Melodrama. “Comedy and horror are structurally very similar. You build to a high point, which is…