Dark Carnival 

Playhouse on the Square's annual "Curtain Up" fund-raiser has always been billed as "five parties under one roof." How can you improve on that?

"This year, I wanted to do something a little different," says Courtney Oliver, Playhouse's multiple-threat performer and resident party planner. Oliver, who directed last season's production of Debbie Does Dallas and most recently appeared onstage as Madame Thénardier in Les Misérables, thought a Carnival Noir might shake things up a bit.

"I had just read Erin Morgenstern's novel The Night Circus, and the mystery of a black-and-white circus arriving in town unannounced at midnight really awoke the romantic in me."

Oliver set out to create an environment similar to "Sleep No More," an audience-immersive, site-specific retelling of Macbeth set on five floors of an art-directed New York warehouse space.

"People who support Playhouse on the Square enjoy the theatrics we provide, obviously," Oliver says. "I thought, Why not throw some theatrics back into ours?"  

Oliver describes a scene with wandering magicians and carnival treats. Renee Kemper's bluegrass band Nay-Nay and the Do-Right Boys play in the cafe with Ghost River beer and sliders from Wade and Company Catering. The theatrical band Black Max plays the basement trap room. There will be poker games, penny pitching, and speakeasy-style drinks. Then you can get a henna tattoo, with no regrets. Alexis Grace is playing a set, then the Memphis Knights, an 18-piece big band, will close the show with music from the 1930s.  

Black-and-white outfits are encouraged.

"Curtain Up: Carnival Noir" at Playhouse on the Square, Friday, November 8th, 7-11 p.m. playhouseonthesquare.org

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