WEEKEND: POP-UP CHILLS, TOP-DOWN THRILLS

halloween 2011 1The 66th annual Red Bank Halloween Parade assembles on East Bergen Place Sunday afternoon for its colorful walk downtown. Below, the Ghoul Scouts of Brookdale Haunted Theater commandeer the BCC PAC building for two weekends of wild walk-throughs. (Click to enlarge)

Friday, October 18:

haunted-theater-a-haunted-attraction-nj_4009LINCROFT:  The real-life horrors of Hurricane Sandy’s dark and drear aftermath forced even the ghouls and goblins to take a back seat last year — but undead and undaunted, they rise again for another seasonal go, as Brookdale Haunted Theater takes over the Performing Arts Center for two big weekends, in a presentation created and performed by past and present members of the school’s Theater Club program. For a ticket price of $10 ($8 seniors, $5 kids and students), patrons are ushered into the PAC’s auditorium (parking lot 2 on the Lincroft campus), split into groups of 10 to 15, and guided through a winding corridor that features live-action dioramas, scarifying skits and the dreaded POP-UP, which is to horror as the PUN is to humor. The creepy crew runs tour groups through its backstage maze of interactive fright environments beginning 7 pm, Friday through Sunday nights (October 18 to 20 and 25 to 27), with “Not-So-Haunted” Scareless tours for younger crowds running from 2 pm on Saturday and Sunday afternoons. Brookdale staff and students with current ID will be admitted for a bargain-dungeon price of $5, during a special “private screaming” session on Thursday, October 24. Tickets available at the creaking door; more info at (732) 224-2411.

kathleen_madiganA Lass and a Laff: Repeat Basie favorite Kathleen Madigan returns to Red Bank for an evening of comic commentary on topics ranging from sports and politics to 80s pop culture.

RED BANK: In a feature on the Capitol Steps that appeared here a few years back, veteran Steps member (and former DC lobbyist) Mark Eaton suggested that “competence is our greatest enemy — (but) every time we think we’re running short on material, somebody always comes along to save us.” The constantly touring musical-comedy political satire troupe — born when a group of moonlighting Senate staffers decided to have a little fun with the foibles of their Congressional bosses — is surely not at a loss for inspiration here in 2013. When these practitioners of Beltway Burlesque return to the Count Basie for what’s become an annual election-season event, they’ll add an extra dose of song-and-dance to a scene where the cabaret arts usually takes a back seat to a much more flamboyant brand of vaudeville — and from the Prez to the Pope and every shutdown showman in between, no one escapes the spotlight. Tickets ($19.50 to $39.50) right here.

Saturday, October 19:

RED BANK: It’s the second anniversary celebration for JBJ Soul Kitchen, the pay-what-you-can community restaurant opened by Jon Bon Jovi’s JBJ Soul Foundation, in a former auto repair facility at 207 Monmouth Street. As part of a five-day observance, the Kitchen cooks up a special Music in the Garden event, with “an outdoor listening experience provided by local musicians” in the front garden area from 5 to 6:30 pm. So just who are those local musicians? While you’re finding out, Pay It Forward by dining and donating, as every $10 received covers the cost of someone’s meal who volunteered as payment.

RED BANK: In an interview she did here a few years back, comic Kathleen Madigan professed a fondness for the theater-venue crowds (“they know who you are and they paid good money to see you”) versus the club crawlers who “are all completely hammered before you begin.” The pint-sized scourge of pompous personalities, vegetarians, and optimists in general has been a proven favorite at the Count Basie Theatre for several seasons, and when she comes back to the Count’s comedy condo for a Saturday night standup, she’ll be riding the momentum generated by a hit Showtime special, numerous nationwide TV appearances, and a seemingly neverending string of live gigs. Tony Deyo opens; tickets ($19.50, $25) available here.

Sunday, October 20:

LINCROFT: The annual family-friendly Fall festival at the Monmouth County Parks System’s home turf in Middletown Township returns for some fun under the mellow October sun, as Thompson Park Day offers up a recreational panorama that includes pumpkin painting, a scarecrow contest, wagon rides, kids’ races, climbing wall, skiing, canoeing, craft demos, animal shows, live music in the Theater Barn, a “4D Movie Theatre Experience” and a Strut Your Mutt doggie costume contest — plus food, craft vendors and more. If you’ve never been to the park off Newman Springs Road, it’s a fine intro as well, to the features of one of the greater Red Bank Green’s best places to take the young’uns. Take it here to register your Mutt or Scarecrow in the competitions — and here for a full schedule of the day’s free activities.

RED BANK: The monsters arrive on Broad Street this Sunday — as will the blood-stained ghouls, the wee ET’s, major licensed cartoon stars, anthropomorphic animals and all the colorful characters who’ve made the Red Bank Halloween Parade a tradition that’s not to be missed. Open to marchers of all ages — and featuring a fantastic flotilla of fanciful hand-decorated floats — the 66th annual event that heralds the Eve of All Hallows traces a joyously noisy route through the downtown business district, lining up at East Bergen Place and South Street at 1 pm, starting off at 2 pm, and ending with a party at the White Street municipal parking lot. Come early, dress up (there are prizes for Best Costume, Best Pet Costume, and Best Float), decorate the kids’ strollers or simply trick-or-treat yourself to one of the borough’s most enduring (and endearingly nutty) local customs. For more info, or to register a float, take it here or call RB Parks & Recreation at (732) 530-2782. Rain date is October 27.