Theatre haunted house production discontinued

by Tanessa Dillard
Sports Editor

For the past three years, the Theatre Department spooked children and adults alike at its annual haunted house. This year, Halloween lovers will have to be haunted elsewhere, since the department decided not to continue the production.

“I’ll miss it,” said sophomore Chryseis Alexander who was involved with the haunted house last year. “I thought the haunted house was an interesting addition to the school. Not having it this year is sad.”

According to Mark Pietrzak, Dailey Theatre technical director, who oversaw past haunted houses, the decision was made two weeks after the haunted house closed last fall. It was confirmed with the department last spring.

“I need my sanity,” said Pietrzak. “It’s such a relief right now not having to do it. I was so entrenched in it.”

Pietrzak described each effect as a small production which involved up to 25 people. He tried to make the haunted house theater but said it was primarily multi-media.

“Now I want to do theater,” he said.

Producing a haunted house made it difficult to work on other projects in the theater. Pietrzak said it disrupted other productions for a two-month period.

Two senior projects will be presented this month. The theater was also rented out for the musical “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.”

Theater rental had been slow over the past few years. The haunted house was its only source of income.

Even though the haunted houses proved to be profitable productions, “the profit didn’t outweigh the long-term wear and tear of the facility,” Pietrzak said. Several theater stock flats were destroyed and had to be replaced.

“It’s good because everyone’s attention is not on the fact that we’re not having a haunted house,” said Pietrzak.

Junior Margo Fiorito worked on the haunted house for two years. She is currently the assistant director/stage manager as well as a performer for the upcoming productions “The System” and “A Dream Play.” According to her, she is putting in the same amount of energy as she did with the haunted house. However, these projects take up less time.

“I’m relieved because it was really exhausting,” said Fiorito. “There are many incredible things going on in the theater right now.”

There were also secondary issues that played a role in the decision not to have a haunted house.

Safety issues were discovered each year. Just when the theater thought it could make aisles 36 inches to comply with safety codes, it discovered that the aisles needed to be 42 inches.

“Every year we were getting fewer and fewer things into the facility. We were shortchanging the public,” said Pietrzak. “Part of the original concept was to disorient people. [Complying to fire regulations] would have changed the whole focus, design-wise.”

Pietrzak added that the changes would have been made had the department decided to continue the haunted house.

The primary concern the theater currently has is that people turn out every year because the haunted house has become a tradition. Pietrzak believes that people will turn out this year, even though no haunted house has been publicized.

Pietrzak said there will always be the possibility of students putting on a haunted house of their own, but it would have to take place outside of the theater.

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