Vampires, ghosts and witches make for a wicked weekend of arts

There are plenty of tricks and treats on Ottawa stages this weekend.

Spooky music and ghoulish theatre just in time for Halloween

From left to right, actors Sarah Finn, Jacqui du Toit and Katie Ryerson return from watery graves to give voice to Victorian women. (Andrew Alexander)

There are plenty of tricks and treats on Ottawa stages this weekend.

A ghost story

Three luckless brides, each married to the same man, end up drowned in a bathtub on their wedding nights.

In the play The Drowning Girls at the Great Canadian Theatre Company, the maidens return to the scene of the crime, rising from the bath water as ghosts. In sopping bridal gowns they tell their stories and find their own justice.

Audience members in the front rows should be prepared to get a little damp.

A ghost bride played by Katie Ryerson rises from a bathtub in The Drowning Girls at the GCTC. (Andrew Alexander )

The play, directed by Bronwyn Steinberg, is ripped from the pages of Victorian history and based on the true story of a British con man who killed his wives for insurance money.

In this telling, the women have the final word and laugh.

Where: GCTC, 1233 Wellington St. W.

When: Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 4 p.m and 8:30 p.m., and Sunday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. The play runs until Nov. 11.

Cost: Tickets range from $38 to $54 and can be purchased here.

A scary movie

The highly influential silent horror film Nosferatu revolves around the mysterious Transylvanian Count Orlok, portrayed by Max Schreck. (Insomnia Cured Here/Flickr)

Nosferatu is one of the creepiest vampire movies of all time — a nightmarish world of shadows where innocent victims are stalked by a hideous bloodthirsty phantom.

Directed by F. W. Murnau in 1922, the silent film is a prime example of the menacing style of German Expressionism.

The mood on the set, according to legend, was equally unsettling. Extras and crew members believed Max Schreck, the actor who portrayed the parasitic Count Orlok, was a real Transylvanian vampire, and decades later it's not hard to see why. 

The chamber choir Seventeen Voyces and its founding conductor Kevin Reeves will accompany the screening with a selection of spine-chilling choral music from Brahms and Bach, and organist Matthew Larkin will be at his sinister best on the pipe organ. Expect chills!

Where: St Matthew's Anglican Church, 217 First Ave.

When: Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m.

Cost: $20 for students and $30 for adults. Tickets can be purchased here.

Tricks and treats

As Samara the Witch, Annie Lefevre is a frightfully fun musical guide. (Sandra Abma/CBC News)

With a witch as mistress of ceremonies and an orchestra made up of wizards and goblins, it's not your typical concert at the National Arts Centre. Trick and Treat to a Wicked Beat is a goodie bag of spooky symphonic music ranging from the The Sorcerer's Apprentice to Harry Potter, and it's designed to appeal to young audiences. 

No need for youngsters to sit up straight and be quiet in the concert hall — audience participation and laughter is encouraged. 

Free pre-concert activities include a spooky noises instrument fair, a dress-up corner and craft time.

Where: National Arts Centre, 1 Elgin St.

When: Saturday and Sunday at 2:30 p.m.

Cost: $15 for students, $20 for adults. Tickets can purchased here.

About the Author

Sandra Abma


Sandra Abma is a veteran CBC arts journalist. If you have an event or idea you want to share, please do at