Article and Photos by: Scott Feinblatt
Cabaret Has Never Been So Ghoulishly Delightful
Captured Aural Phantasy Theater brings Horror Comics to Life in Nightclub Variety Show
Morgan Hill brings a comic book ad for Scar Stuf to life during one of the commercial
interludes that contributed to the comic book-styled cabaret show.
Too often, when people hear the word
“horror,” they imagine glistening
entrails and naked, screeching
teenagers. While there is a time and a
place for both of those things, the neo-
traditional cabaret show of
Aural Phantasy Theater provides
neither. With their Haunted Horror
Spook Show, the talented and
charming troupe infused “horror” with
a sense of nostalgic camp delight.

The first ingredient in any CAPT
cauldron is comic books. Ringleader
Ben Dickow and his ensemble are
lovers of vintage comic books, and it is
from those comic books that the
stories, which form the core of a CAPT
show, originate. During a show, panels from the comics are projected onto a screen while the performers render
the stories in the style of
radio drama.
The stories from their Haunted Horror
Spook Show, which was performed
exclusively on November 3, were
interwoven with a variety of amusing
interludes, including: musical numbers,
magic tricks and other nostalgic and
appropriately themed acts. Off-kilter humor
and proverbial winks to the audience
pervaded the dramatic portions of the show
while the songs commanded senses of
class and intimacy.

Though horror comics formed the basis of
this show, their previous shows have run
the gamut of comic book themes. The
troupe, itself, evolved from the trio of Ben
Ziola and his siblings, who performed
staged comic book readings for their family
and friends in Omaha, NE. As the tradition
(Left to Right) Ben Dickow, Amy Patrice Golden and Michael Uribes perform
"Return from the Grave" from
Tomb of Terror #6, originally published in
November 1952.
continued through his high school years, Ziola was joined by friend
Wes Bailey; after their graduation, the duo moved to Chicago, where
they recruited additional members, called themselves the Park
Avenue Produce company and garnered audiences throughout the
80's and 90's. Eventually, they changed their name and fine-tuned
their shows to the eclectic yet complementary collection of acts which
Dickow – who now carries the torch – has been producing, directing
and performing with his Los Angeles collaborators for the past five

CAPT is still essentially a grass roots theater group. The various
members workshop Dickow's outlines (which are rooted in the stories
from his old comic books), decide on songs and background music
and introduce additional elements – stemming from their diverse
talents and skill sets. The troupe, itself, has grown to include seven
to twelve talented and dedicated friends, depending upon the show,
who also collectively handle all of the promotion and logistics
involved in facilitating the CAPT shows.

CAPT's sponsors include: the comic book shop
The Comic Book
Hideout, a blog which celebrates the art and history of horror comic
books called
The Horrors of it All and the online haunted attraction
CreepyLA. The show was hosted by the historic entertainment
El Cid, whose gorgeous layout is the perfect venue for the
quirky group. Although Horror Works naturally hopes to see more
horror stories given new life by CAPT, we highly recommend seeing
anything that they produce!
Laurel Robinson Dickow purrs out her rendition of
"Spooky" by Classics IV.
To see additional photos of Captured Aural Phantasy performing their
Haunted Horror Spook Show, visit the Horror Works
Facebook page.