Experience Halloween spirit with Haunted Theatre

By Monica Nordeen

Special to the Journal

MARQUETTE – Haunted Theatre at Northern Michigan University’s Forest Roberts Theatre is once again proving to be a terrific Halloween treat for Marquette. Returning for its eighth consecutive year, Haunted Theatre is now an established mainstay in the local Halloween entertainment circuit – and for good reason. Every year the themed rooms and scares have gotten better, and this year is no exception. A few of the favorite themes from previous years will haunt audiences again this year, but plenty of new surprises have been introduced to keep people on their toes.

The mastermind behind Haunted Theatre is director Martyn Martello, a seasoned local theatre professional who takes great delight in making sure folks who dare to experience Haunted Theatre get their money’s worth. Martello and Assistant Director Eliisa Gladwell have expertly guided the cast of approximately 60 individuals including NMU students, community members, and youth to create a top-notch haunted house adventure that will not be soon forgotten.

As audience members travel from room to room, they will be drawn in by more than the performers, costumes and make-up. Anyone who has ever seen a good horror movie knows that the environment and sound effects can really catapult a scene into the realm of the terrifying. The Haunted Theatre technical design team has created an eerie, immersive environment that will get your pulse racing through the masterful combination of physical surroundings, lighting, music and sound effects. They have crafted a distinct world and feeling for each of the different rooms, as well as the mazes, spaces and hallways that connect those rooms. The immeasurable talents of Technical Director David Pierce and Light/Sound Designer Dan Zini are evident every step along the way, from the theatre lobby to the final exit.

Haunted Theatre has a little something for everyone. Creepy puppets, sudden scares, horror movie-themed rooms, gory scenes, unnerving situations, graphic stage combat, medical procedures gone awry, and psychological thrills each have their moment in the spotlight as audience members wind their way through the rooms.

Concerned that it might be too much for you? Don’t worry! All audience members are informed of the escape word that they can yell if they wish to be rescued. Once the word is yelled, a member of the Haunted Theatre management team will magically appear almost instantaneously to help that individual skip ahead to a different part of the experience or to the end, if desired.

In addition to the full-blooded (so to speak) Haunted Theatre for adults and older kids which is rated PG-13, there is also a family friendly Haunted Theatre, rated PG, with toned-down spooks and scares. This is a good option for families with younger kids, and for adults who don’t think they have the constitution to make it through the PG-13 version. Though less intense in terms of the scares, the performance quality and production values of the family friendly version are on par with those of the adult version.

Haunted Theatre is a fundraiser for the First Nighters Club, a booster organization for the Forest Roberts Theatre. In addition to supporting the First Nighters Club’s mission by providing improvisational performance opportunities and unique technical theater experiences for a great number of students, Haunted Theatre helps to fund scholarships and graduate assistantships for the theatre program at NMU.

Haunted Theatre takes place at the Forest Roberts Theatre, and is an interactive haunted house-style experience. Haunted Theatre is open to adults and older kids from 7 to 11 p.m. today through Saturday, with the family friendly version for parents and children ages 6 and up taking place from 4 to 6 p.m. Saturday. Tickets are $5 for students and $10 for adults. Tickets are $15 for entire families at the family friendly version only.

Parental supervision is required for kids ages 7 and under. Tickets are available at the door only. Presale tickets will not be available. For more information on the event, contact the Forest Roberts Theatre Box Office at 906-227-2082 or via email at frtbox@gmail.com.

This year’s Haunted Theatre is the best yet, and is not to be missed. Treat yourself to an outstanding, unique, high-quality, spooky experience this Halloween season at Haunted Theatre!

EDITOR’S NOTE: Monica Nordeen is a local actor, director, and writer.