Danielle De Luna
An eerie fog billowed into the atmosphere Tuesday night as the Dailey Theatre’s interior transformed into dimly lit hallways, an electroshock therapy room, an examination area and an operating theater.
The Cabaret Student Productions presented the medical facility of horrors for its annual Haunted House.
Jump scare actors crept in the shadows, darted around participants and rattled the walls throughout the experience, leaving the audience completely unsettled.
About 30 students stood under the canopy of oak trees in front of the theater, eagerly waiting until the Haunted House officially opened at 9:30 p.m.
Angela Romo, Cabaret club member and sophomore broadcast major, handed plastic gloves to participants and wished them luck after they signed participation waivers.
“Stay sterile and stay safe,” Romo said.
A facility tour guide in a dark cloak began the immersive experience by leading groups into the pitch-black theater and examining each member with a blinding flashlight.
Afterwards, she escorted participants through a dark narrow hallway, where scarers burst from curtains and cabinets.
The hallway led to the electroshock therapy room, where a patient screamed and convulsed as perfectly timed lighting cues sporadically illuminated the room.
The ominous lighting gave the patient cover to chase the tour group into an examination room where two more scarers prowled menacingly.
Projections of heart monitors and MRI scans flickered on a wall as the tour guide presented a makeshift human experiment with what looked like fragments of brain tissue lying in a bowl on an operation table.
The pace of the tour quickly picked up speed as the guide ushered the group into a dark bathroom for sanitation. A doctor sprinted from the shadows, stabbing and killing the guide and urged participants to follow her and escape.
The grand finale played out before participants as they stood on the main stage of the theater enshrouded in smoke. Two menacing surgeons and a tall figure in a plague doctor mask seized the doctor and secured her in a chair.
A blinding spotlight cut through the smoke and backlit the figures on stage creating a harrowing silhouette, as a surgeon opened a door for participants to exit the theater.
Sophomore business administration major Ryan Solano said the tour’s theatrical nature was unique.
“I really liked the storyline,” Solano said. “Most haunted houses have a theme but no story, so I really enjoyed that.”
Brienne Toyoshiba, a freshman physics major, said she was impressed by the layout of the haunted house.
“I think they did a really great job of evaluating the space they had and using it to their advantage,” Toyoshiba said.
President of Cabaret Student Productions Jennifer Gonzalez said the Haunted House gives anyone interested an opportunity to make use of their skills and experiment with putting on events.
“We’ve gotten a lot of new theater majors and minors, but people from other majors join Cabaret too,” Gonzalez said.
About 150 to 200 students participated in last year’s haunted house, and Cabaret Student Productions expects more each year, Gonzalez said.
Romo said the event is a great starting point for anyone interested in theater.
“It’s a lot of fun and you make a lot of connections,” said Romo. “It really gives you an opportunity to use your talents and scare people, of course.”
Danielle De Luna can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.