Event Report

Phantasmagoria IX: Homecoming – The Steampunk Troupe Is Back With All New Stories

Phantasmagoria, Orlando’s Original Steampunk Storytelling Troupe, is yet again going to make its way through the central Florida area to entertain during the Halloween season. This is their long running, main stage series that has gained popularity year after year. Add to it even an immersive experience as a bonus method to bring forth fears at a bed and breakfast in a form of entertainment.

Each Phantasmagoria entertainer takes on their own character personas along with a variety of roles, abilities, and and talents best suited for the fascinating macabre spectacle. Included in all of this are choreographed fight scenes, large-scale puppetry, storytelling, and more. The steampunk, Victorian themed costumes are fascinating and adds to an already popular pop-culture phenomena for those who are passionate about the genre.


They delve into Victorian Horror Poetry, theatrics brought to you in the form of Edgar Allan Poe’s works, Mexican folklore, and then some.

Outside of doing their main performance, another interesting take is their event come Halloween time. Over at Sanford’s Higgins House Victorian Bed and Breakfast will be an immersive experience for attendees. As you make way through the home, you’ll enjoy real time interactivity with the troupe.

From the Phantasmagoria website:

“Join Phantasmagoria in the perfect setting – a gorgeous Victorian Bed and Breakfast for its first ever walk through “Haunted” experience as magic, storytelling, and a séance to gather the forces of the ‘Ghost of the Higgins House’ takes the audience on a delightful journey into the Whimsically Macabre!”

So this looks to be a great added bonus or expansion into the Phantasmagoria troupe of projects.

John DiDonna is the creator, writer, and director of the whole ensemble and has impressed many with sold out performances in the past. This is their 9th installment and is moving full steam (punk?) ahead. John shared with me that its been on his mind for the past couple of decades and since it’s inception was able to entrust himself with a group of people that has great talent to bring it all to life on stage.

Phantasmagoria promo shoot August 26, 2018.

FSG: How did Phantasmagoria get its start when it came to the creative process prior to putting it to paper?

John DiDonna: It had been gestating in my brain for close to 20 years. . .the idea of a Horror Circus. The idea of telling tales by firelight. I would come up with an idea, then toss it. Finally I was in Atlanta and saw a multimedia show that inspired me to think outside the box and THERE IT WAS. I started writing the first Phantasmagoria and then returned to Florida and literally started rehearsing with a cast I trusted.

FSG: Who/What are the more stand-out or more impressive performances of Phantasmagoria: Homecoming?

J.D.: Wow that is so hard to say! We have some new performers that are killing it up there, but for me it is the interaction amongst the cast that are standouts. You can really see their connections.

FSG: I understand Phantasmagoria is also traveling out of state and do you have future plans of expanding even further?

J.D.: We have traveled extensively but now we have a Phantasmagoria Atlanta permanent troupe! They are performing right now as we speak and are selling out houses in Georgia and we have plans to continue with new shows up there and a whole new “Phamily”

FSG: Any plans for part X? Plans on doing something special for Phantasmagoria’s 10th anniversary?

J.D.: Oh oh yes. Tis our ten year anniversary. Started working on the script and surprise already!

FGS: I wanted to ask you if it’s all new material/content in the upcoming one?

J.D.: Every single MainStage show is brand new. All new stories that we adapt, all new dances, all new plot. Only our Tour shows do the ones we have done before. And even then I rewrite them and we re-stage them We like to keep it FRESH.

Phantasmagoria takes place in a world or universe which exists in the world where the Greek god Zeus exists. Apparently, this group of entertainers is at odds with this entity and they have been known to all cultures of the world for many centuries.

They are also known for their storytelling abilities and with it sometimes mystical impacts involving the supernatural. They are commonly well known to only each other in a ghostly state, giving a visual rendering of tales published mostly by authors from circa 1800’s.

Their ballad touts “For of the stories they are born…and of the stories they shall die”. Which is quite telling regarding the influence of their existence.

That being said, since they are only known to each other, it would be interesting if someone from outside their realm to make a “Homecoming” appearance and share a story. A different perspective from a mysterious visitor crossing over into their camp could be quite jarring to the Phantasmagoria troupe. Their reaction could even be xenophobic-like and other repercussions may occur since they aren’t used to interlopers.

Being an outdoor enthusiast, I am aware that entering someone’s camp ground without asking first is considered rude, but to enter Phantasmagoria’s venue…woe to anyone that does…mortal or spectral.

For information on the troupe, ticket info. for future events, and other projects, visit the Phantasmagoria website.

So far, they had concluded performances in Orlando and Eustis and impressed many!

Upcoming performances will be at the Wayne Densch Performing Arts Center in Sanford, Oct. 26; Reilly Arts Center in Ocala on Oct. 27, the Athens Theatre in Deland on Nov. 3, and then the Halloween walk through experience at the Higgins House Bed & Breakfast in Sanford come Oct. 30 & 31.

Buy your tickets!

Phantasmagoria will also be performing at Orlando’s Spooky Empire horror convention come Oct. 26th – 28th for an “All Hallow’s Eve” celebration via the Caribe Royale Orlando venue.

Finally, Phantasmagoria concludes their 2018 year of macabre mayhem by doing their version on “A Christmas Carol” with a “A Ghost Story” take on the original Dickens classic. They’ll be repeating this tour through the same five cities.


Native Floridian who his highly passionate about all things 80s retro, geeky, sci-fi, and just about anything pop-culture. Tony enjoys writing about this very topic as well as immerse himself into the culture by attending events. There's nothing more fun than rubbing elbows with other interested cohorts of the craft.