From the weeping angels of “Doctor Who” to blood-soaked walls of “The Shining”, the RBHS drama club will host an annual walkthrough haunted house. The event is 4-9:30 p.m. Oct. 27 in the Performing Arts Center (PAC) of the school. Preparation is under way for the house, and drama club member Audrey Mueller is excited for the changed to this years experience.
“The biggest change in the haunted house from year to year is our theme,” Audrey Mueller said. “My freshman year we did [a] haunted carnival and last year, we did fairy-tales. This year the theme is haunted mansion.”
For the new theme to settle into place comfortably, lots of preparation goes into making the house and it’s activities finished on time. Holly Kerns, the drama club sponser, keeps the members inspired with the yearly themes.
“We start at the beginning of the year in general terms,” Kerns said. “We come up with a theme that inspires the group. Within that theme we find areas that support that theme. For example, we once had a circus theme, so we find themes that relate to the circus for each room.”
Senior Jocelyn Heimsoth said that they want the house to have a theme not necessarily like the Disney movie, but more in the vain of the game “Clue.”
“I make sure all of the parts come together,” Kerns said. “Various groups focus on a space, and I have leadership that tries to communicate with various parts. I am a facilitator and babysitter.”
With each new year of the haunted house, more and more people come. Large crowds lead to a wide range of demographics visiting, from young children ready for small startles to older individuals eager to handle more intense frights. The scarier elements of the house can often be too much for younger participants.
“I would say that the situation that always happens each year is a child will end up crying from being scared. I have been a victim of that myself,” Heimsoth said. “I didn’t purposely try and scare them really bad, I stood there looking creepy, and it occured to me that some kids are easier to scare than others. It’s always important for the actors to be aware who’s going through the maze and let the actors know who is with them and how well the children with them will react to the scares.”
In addition to convincing acting, drama club needs good leadership in order to be able to make a satisfying and spooky experience for all of the attending guests. Senior and club president Bailey Long makes sure to keep everyone in the club engaged while preparing the haunted house.
“I go around to each committee and see what they are doing,” Long said. “If they aren’t on task, I put them in the right direction by asking them questions on how they can make their room or character better.”
Saturday, members of the club work all day to get things running smoothly. The members have to set up the maze by utilizing panels and curtains of the stage to make the activity. THe club also has to pick a soundtrack for the whole haunted house itself. When members first arrive in the morning, Heimsoth said members frantically run around, trying to prepare for the busy day.
“We will get [to RBHS] around 8 a.m. and we will work all the way up until opening,” Heimsoth said. “It can be pretty stressful because sometimes, we may want to do something that was vital to our plan for the night, but then we figure out we can’t do it last minute because people forget to bring props. There’s a panic and we have to change a lot of things.”
Lots of preparation must be completed for the haunted house before opening day, from brainstorming to building sets. Members of the drama club consider the preparation of the haunted house their favorite part.
“The best moments happen when everyone is jamming out to music while working on the rooms,” Long said. “It’s so much fun to set up rooms while singing with your closest friends, while you are working hard of course. Nothing really ever bad happens, other than someone forgetting a crucial part of their room and have to go back and get it. Overall it’s a really fun time.”
While this is only the fourth annual haunted house, members of the drama club still remember the great times they had in previous years. Heimsoth, who participated in the drama club for all four years, reflected on her past before her last year in the club.
“I remember my freshman year, all of the cast was in their costumes and makeup and were wandering around the haunted house just like of goofing off until it started,” Heimsoth said. “I ended up hearing someone coming so I hid behind a curtain near room 408, and then once they passed me, I jumped out and scared them and they ended up falling on the ground. They weren’t hurt or anything, but it was really interesting to get a reaction I normally don’t get from people.”
For the club to continue making favorite moments for its members, all profits collected from the haunted house go to the drama department, which funds plays, musicals, and other fine arts necessities. Participants of the haunted house can either pay the four dollars required to enter per person, or they can pay in the form of four canned goods.
The canned goods will help benefit TOTS EAT, a community service initiative that helps families and children in need of food. To help find the future careers of RBHS students in the drama field, head to the frights and chills of the Saturday, Oct. 27 haunted house.
I love it when everybody is ready to go, and we are about to open the doors,” Kerns said. “It’s just a lot of anticipation. They change the characters as they go and adapt to the crowd. Its exhausting and satisfying at the same time.”