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Halloween fun
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Dancing skeletons, murderous shopping sprees, haunted swimming pools and trapeze-savy ghosts - throw in some seasonal song, dance and puppetry and you have a recipe for one of the best live performances to hit Atlanta in 2006.

If you missed it last year, "The Ghastly Dreadfuls' Compendium of Graveyard Tales and Other Curiosities" has returned to Atlanta's Center for Puppetry Arts for 2007, delivering the same mix of Halloween magic, puppetry and vaudevillian charm.

A whimsical, graveyard variety show of sorts, Jon Ludwig and Jason von Hinezmeyer's "The Ghastly Dreadfuls" is a Halloween spectacular for all the grown-ups out there who still have a warm place in their hearts for trick-or-treating, scary movies and a creepy costume or two.

Steeped in the Gothic elegance of Edward Gorey, with just a little "Rocky Horror Picture Show" thrown in for good measure, the seven flesh-and-blood members of the Dreadful family serve as hosts for the evening's entertainment. Their instrumentation and vocals provide the rich thematic backbone for the show's puppet and live-action song-and-dance numbers.

And the music alone is reason enough to take in the Deadfuls' seasonal showcase - ranging from such classical, spine-tingling mainstays as Charles Gounod's "Funeral March of the Marionettes" to the traditional Calypso "Zombie Jamboree" and Burt Bacharach's "The Blob."

The Dreadfuls cast members provide much of the show's charm. From the burlesque styling's of Tartly Dreadful and Darkly Dreadful's turn-of-the-century thespian swagger to the meowing Catly Dreadful, the banter between the characters does more than just bridge the various skits and performances, they help cement the show in a world of whimsical magic.

 The heart of the show, however, is the puppetry - and "The Ghastly Dreadfuls" deliver no fewer than seven puppetry performances of varying styles and tones.

 While "A Ghost Story" retells Mark Twain's classic, comic short story using light-curtain puppetry, "The Deep End of the Pool," makes use of marionettes, relating an original tale which manages to deliver cuteness and supernatural horror in equal portions.

 In one of the show's many highlights, Catly Dreadful's account of Death's graveyard violin performance is related via marionettes and rod puppets in a rendition of Saint Saens' "Le Dance Macabre" full of dancing skeletons, leaping cats and soaring witches.

"The Ghastly Dreadfuls' Compendium of Graveyard Tales and Other Curiosities" is, quite simply, a celebration of Halloween.

If you're the kind of person who counts down the days to Oct. 31, this is the show for you. And if you're not already in the Halloween spirt, then an evening with the Dreadfuls should do the trick.

Recommended for ages 16 and up, "The Ghastly Dreadfuls' Compendium of Graveyard Tales and Other Curiosities" will be presented in the Downstairs Theater. Show times are as follows: Thursday through Saturday at 8 p.m.; Saturday, Oct. 27 at 8 p.m. and 11 p.m.; Sunday at 5 p.m.

Special Promotions: Wear a costume to any performance of the Ghastly Dreadfuls and get $2 off admission.

Costume Contest: Don't forget your most frightening frocks for the costume contest held during both Oct. 27 performances at 8 and 11 p.m.

Full-price tickets include the performance, museum and special exhibits admission. Tickets for Thursday and Saturday at 11 p.m. and Sunday performances are $16.67 plus tax; tickets for Friday and Saturday's 8 p.m. performances are $20.37 plus tax.

Become a Member and receive 45 percent off all performance ticket prices. Group rates are available. Advance purchase is recommended for all Center activities.

Order your tickets fee-free at or call the Ticket Sales Office at (404) 873-3391.

The Ticket Sales Office is open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., with extended hours during evening performances.

The Center's programming is offered Tuesday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. - 5 p.m.

Located in Midtown across from Atlantic Station, the Center is accessible from MARTA and has limited free parking.