ALTON - Horror fans can enjoy a fully immersive theater experience at Marquette Catholic High School (MCHS) this weekend.
The theater department’s 2023 fall play is a mixed-media thriller that straddles the line between fun and “Friday the 13th.” Performances of “The Red House Monster” start at 7 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 13, 2023, and Saturday, Oct. 14, 2023, at MCHS. People are also invited to enjoy fall festivities at MCHS, including a bonfire and ghost stories, before the show.
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“It’s not just a play you just sit and watch. The audience really are invited tourists or guests to this production,” said director Brett Klaus. “They’re going to be very much in the middle of the action…I hope they laugh and smile, but only because they’re so scared.”
“The Red House Monster,” written by Rachel Bublitz, draws on the myth of Hercules and Geryon and the novel “We Have Always Lived in the Castle” by famed horror writer Shirley Jackson. The running time is approximately 45 minutes.
Klaus explained that the theater department decided to produce a horror play when they realized there was a Friday the 13th in October 2023. The play is immersive, and he compared the experience to the Haunted Mansion ride at Disneyland, with special effects, video projections and a “haunted exit attraction” for brave audience members “to complete the full journey of the show.”
While the production is meant to be fun, MCHS warns that the play is a thriller, and it might not be suitable for young kids. Klaus added that he worked with his assistant director, Robert Price, to tone down the scare factor. Horror fans will catch references to famous films, including “The Witch,” “The Blair Witch Project” and “Friday the 13th.”
“I would say kids under 10, maybe leave them at home. I’m sure parents would like to sleep alone,” Klaus laughed. “This is not horror comedy. It’s scary. It’s not gory by any means, but certainly scary, certainly suspenseful.”
The show is double-cast, so the Friday show will be slightly different from the Saturday show, with different actors bringing their interpretations to the stage. “The Red House Monster” stars Piper Karrenbrock, Annabelle Walters, Ella Walters, Addison Gallagher, William Bridegroom, Lily Berkenbile and Nola Effinger.
The MCHS theater and music departments have gained recognition across the St. Louis region over the past year, which has presented several opportunities for students. Klaus noted that it’s been rewarding to watch his students succeed, and he is excited to kick off the school year with this fall play.
“I’m excited for the school and I’m excited for these kids,” he added. “We kind of put the whole kitchen sink in with this one. Why not? It definitely will have an energy to this that is still youthful but fun, and the kids are having fun too. That’s the most important thing.”
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