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Hot-air balloon carries Witchie Poo to Sonoma

WITCHIE-POO, surrounded by her usual cast of characters, makes her annual Halloween visit to the Sebastiani Theatre for two weekends only. (Robbi Pengelly/Index-Tribune)

WITCHIE-POO, surrounded by her usual cast of characters, makes her annual Halloween visit to the Sebastiani Theatre for two weekends only. (Robbi Pengelly/Index-Tribune)

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The pumpkin patches are open for business, which means it’s time for Sonoma’s annual Halloween showcase.

Now in its 33rd year, the Witchie Poo Players take to the stage with “Witchie Poo Halloween Extravaganza: Around-the-World Hot-Air Balloon Race,” which can be seen Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 19, 20, 26 and 27, at 2 p.m. at the Sebastiani Theatre.

This year, the famed Halloween queen, Witchie Poo, and her trusted companion, Lemmy have taken to the sky, chasing the other Witchie Poo Players in a hot-air balloon race around the world.

This year’s program features performances by a multi-talented cast of 60-some Witchie Poo Players. Bring the whole family to watch the Halloween fun “balloon” out of control, showcasing the talents of Roger Rhoten, the Magic Man; Witchie Poo (Diana Rhoten); Lemmy; the zany Cruise Brothers, Jake and Elwood (Bob Gossett and Andrew Spear); the multi-talented Philip Sales as Captain Froggey, the extravaganza’s master of ceremonies; the raucous Skeleton Jack (Dave Robbins); darling Dorothy “Dot T” (Rebecca Hengehold); Austin Bellach and the unlovely Count Flatula (Spencer Rank). The extravaganza showcases the choreography of dance expert Mikey Snider, who promises some spectacular tap and hip-hop dance numbers as well. This year’s show features a new black-light number, “Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.”

Come early to see the pre-show entertainment with dynamo drummer Animal (Rod Leeburg), the beloved, hairy, yellow monster; along with Gossett on guitar and keyboardist Cat Austin. The Witchie Poo Players will perform such seasonal favorites as “There’s A Witch Under My Bed,” “Thriller,” “Be Kind to Your Neighborhood Monster” and  “This is Halloween.” Many of these Halloween tunes were written by Gossett and have been sung though the ages by multiple generations of Witchie Poo Players.

Audiences can come early to check out the Halloween decorations – the Sebastiani Theatre is in full costume thanks to the hard work and generosity of Susan Bellach, who has been decking out the theater in holiday dress for years. Come in costume for the intermission costume parade and a chance to draw for an array of prizes.

Doors open at 1:30 p.m. for each 2 p.m. matinee.

Advance tickets are available in Sonoma at Readers’ Books and the Sebastiani Theatre.

Adult tickets are $10, or $7 for seniors 62 and better and children 12 and under.

Call 996-9756 to reserve tickets.

The Sebastiani Theatre is located at 476 First St. E., on the Plaza.