PITTSBURG, Kan. — If you love Tim Burton’s movies, you won’t want to miss the latest Midwest Regional Ballet’s production.
That’s because “This Is Halloween," directed and choreographed by Midwest founder Kaye Lewis, was inspired by Tim Burton’s 1993 film “A Nightmare Before Christmas.”
It debuts Thursday — Halloween night — at Pittsburg's Memorial Auditorium and Convention Center, 503 N. Pine St.
“I love all things Tim Burton,” Lewis said. "'Nightmare' is also one of my favorites. I (also) love Halloween because of the amazing memories it brings from my childhood of making our own costumes, not buying them. I love the creepy stuff, and I love that even as an adult I get to be a kid and it's OK. Christmas is probably my favorite (holiday), so with this show I get to have both my faves combined.”
The movie tells the story of Jack Skellington, the Pumpkin King of Halloween Town who stumbles through a portal to Christmas Town and decides to embrace and celebrate the holiday. The story originated from a 1982 poem penned by Burton.
Lewis follows the dark fantasy musical closely but makes some embellishments along the way. She has to, considering the movie used stop-motion animation.
“I tried to follow the movie as much as possible,” Lewis said. “Of course, computer animation (compared) with real-life people is hard to copy.
“But adding flying skeletons who are humorous and silly, some of my own characters, and keeping the ones that are in the show, I think adds a texture to the show as well,” she continued.
Along with "Alice in Steampunk Wonderland," "This Is Halloween" is one of Midwest Regional Ballet’s most popular and most requested shows; the group has performed it live in front of paying customers three times since its 2011 debut.
Elaborate costumes are part of any Midwest Regional Ballet production, and Lewis designed and crafted them herself.
"I've made costumes to match the characters. Sally's dress took 10 hours to match. I made most of the costumes from handmade patterns as well as when we did the show last time it was right after the tornado so we had no fabric stores," she said. "I traveled many times to Tulsa, Oklahoma, and Kansas City to get fabric, and also there weren't any patterns for the show — especially the (tree characters). I had to create them from my own head."
Cast members include Major Smith, Libby Vogel, Maggie Arehart, Xander Goertzen, Genevieve Arehart, Wyatt Tasker, Seth Harley, Megan Spiers, Mason Bayliss and Tara Palmer.
The show will also feature "amazing sets and cool effects" such as lightning and fog, she said.
"I think this show is great for all ages — it's funny and spooky," she said.
The play's message is universal: "Whatever holiday you love, it's about having family and friends to share it with, (and) that being different is OK."