48 hours after my “performance” every bone in my body ached, every muscle was sore and I still was mentally processing what had just occured during my one-and-only performance in “Sector 13…..” For the past twelve years, I have visited practically every major and minor haunted attraction on the east coast. I have had the privilege of developing lasting friendships with numerous haunt owners, managers, actors, and staff. I have been educated in the industry from multiple perspectives and have been honored this season to begin working with what I feel is by far the best haunted attraction in the country reapers revenge. While I have spent so much time behind the scenes studying the industry as well producing professionally published reviews previews etc. I never once considered performing in an attraction.
One of my major points of operational analysis and reviewing was to always “judge” the quality of acting, but for all these years I made zero attempts to do so myself (was actually terrified of the thought even). It was Sunday, October 10th, that a simple message put out by reapers revenge casting director Michael Belardi that finally gave me pause. I was on the road preparing to attend the haunt for the evening, and it hit me I felt hypocritical and felt that this night was the time to become a part of the show itself. I contacted Michael got dressed all in black (per costuming requirements) and headed to the mountain. Hours before the show I could not focus on anything else besides the performance. Not totally understanding my role at first the ever chaotic but controlled process of show preparation was a blur as my name was called to enter makeup and costuming. As I sat in the makeup chair for the first time ever, I was airbrushed and had silicone applied along with a bloody lab jacket as I transformed into a morgue doctor in the infamous “Sector 13.” Performing for the first time, and wanting to “live” up to my self-inflicted desire to be “decent” at this perhaps one time activity was necessary and really the drive that got me over the “hump” of fear that I was going to fail at such a task.
Attraction supervisors gave me advice and direction, but I still was totally in shock, waiting ever so nervously for the first customers to arrive. Working with three other actors in a “morgue cooler” area they gave me some real advice and a basic plan on how to use the room itself to create scares. Within seconds customers came through, and at first, I had no idea what to do as I stood awkwardly near a hanging stuffed body. Suddenly a customer saw me and jumped back, and from that moment I was able to develop a rhythm interacting with customers placing some in the cooler and using the environment to generate startle scares. I became enamored with the reactions of each guest many which I felt were unexpected. I saw grown men hit the ground in fear; some abandon their wives and girlfriends, others who would freak out at the site of the hanging bodies and others who displayed bravery above my initial observations and expectations. As I “grew” into my little character, I was able to move about multiple rooms watching guests become so terrified by even by the smallest of glances (and knowing that I was the direct cause for such a reaction) I now understood why so many performers love to scare acting. Without taking a break it was nonstop action to the early morning and using scare tactics and helping fellow actors use environmental diversions to control lines as well as maximize surprise and build fear. After what felt was just a few minutes (turned out to be an hour) I felt comfortable, was relaxed, and able to garner a “flow” for the performance and the art of working in tandem to scare guests.
As the last few guests came through the attraction, we worked diligently to keep the energy level at a high pitch, and then suddenly, it was over. As we headed back to the makeup area the next challenge was to remove the prosthetics and makeup, but I felt shockingly energized despite the long evening. Adrenaline and excitement of the personal reactions of the variety of guests kept my mind racing, and sleeping was almost impossible. However, when I did finally fall asleep and awake, every single inch of my body was in pain. The psychological and physically tasking performance of generating even a small subset of scares played a toll on my body, and I earned brand-new respect and perspective for the performance art that is scare acting. The addictive nature of garnering legitimate human reactions whether it is fear or apprehension was absolutely fascinating, and this moment to break down a wall and embrace even the most minor of characters allowed me to finally truly understand the challenges and the rewarding nature of scare acting. For those “haunt review” groups or enthusiasts who are compelled to learn as much of the industry as possible I would highly recommend you try this experience. I gained a deeper appreciation for the sincere passion each actor has at Reaper’s Revenge and perhaps may come out of “retirement” again this season!
I would like to thank Michael Belardi(for the inspirational call to action!), Steve DeEsch, Danielle Adams, Kelley Michael (for the congratulatory hug!) Travis Rhoad, and Paul Kotran for the advice, encouragement, and opportunity to perform at Reaper’s Revenge and all of the fellow scare actors that bring to life this incredible attraction.
Reaper’s Revenge News
Reaper’s Revenge proudly supports and promotes a variety of community and charity organizations each season. Once again, Reaper’s Revenge has hosted numerous local performance groups, and we would like to thank the following groups for their recent performances!
We would also like to take a moment and give a special thanks to the operational staff of Reaper’s Revenge. Lead by Head of Security and Tractor Operations Steve Gillette; this team is responsible for ensuring each guest has a safe and enjoyable evening. Without this team, Reaper’s Revenge would fail to operate, and we would like to again extend our gratitude for their hard work and dedication.
Social Media Reviews of the Week!
“Christopher- Middleton, New York– I’ve been a haunt actor for over ten years at a haunt in the Hudson Valley. it was the first time in years I had the chance to visit your attraction. I’m beyond amazed across the board from start to finish. Everything from set design, volunteering myself to interact with monsters/ performers in Sector 13, and the opportunity to take in the whole experience without being rushed. All the cast and crew get an outstanding performance in my book
“Kimberly, Old Forge, Pennsylvania– Great time!! I can’t wait to go again next year!! Every step of the way is fantastic, excellent and scary!!