Maria Bautista

Plaza Theatre Co. volunteer Maria Bautista applies blood to a skull one of many props to be featured in Plaza’s Theater of Horrors Haunted House, which runs through Oct. 30.

Boos, scares and bumps in the night abound as Halloween draws closer and Plaza Theatre Co. follows frightfully in the holiday spirit.

Theater of Horrors, Plaza’s haunted house brings both heavy duty scares for seekers of the spine chilling and lighter-hearted Halloween fun for those less daring.

“So what we’re doing is kind of a novel take on a haunted house,” Plaza Artistic Director JaceSon Barrus said. “It’s a 1950’s sitcom style haunted house. People go through the maze of the haunted house and there’s a serial killer, but he’s more a sitcom serial killer. It should be a lot of fun.”

If the props Plaza volunteers spent last  week preparing are any indication, sitcom style or not, Theater of Horrors certainly won’t lack for startles aplenty.

“Fridays and Saturdays are going to be full-scare mode,” Barrus said. “But we’re calling Thursdays Unfright Night, which will be fun, less scary stuff for kids and anyone else not into being scared.”

Theater of Horrors runs 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. through Oct. 30 on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights at Plaza Main Street Theatre, 111 S. Main St.

Admission is $15.

Funds raised will assist local actors attending the upcoming iTheatrics Junior Theatre Festival in Atlanta. Plaza has in the past worked to provide various fundraising activities for actors hoping to attend the festival but the individual actors had to otherwise cover costs themselves, which total about $1,300 per person. About 40 students attended the last JTF and about the same are expected to participate in the next.

“The haunted house idea came about because we wanted to provide Halloween scares and fun for the community and it’s something a little different for us, which we always like doing,” Barrus said. “But also because JTF got postponed in 2021 because of COVID-19. Some of our kids did go in June but now the next one is going to be January in Georgia. That’s an awful lot of cost and fundraising on their parts in a short amount of time back to back so we wanted to help them out as much as we can.”

Several thousand theater youth from across the country attend JTF events every year. In addition to performing, students get to meet and learn from Broadway and major theater stars, producers and directors.

In all the previous years they attended the festival, Plaza’s young actors walked away with accolades and numerous awards. 

“It was a fantastic experience,” Plaza Operations Director Aaron Siler said of the 2019 JTFs. “What I enjoyed most was watching our kids, and we have extremely talented kids at Plaza Academy, performing on stage with other talented kids from all over the country.

“Winning awards is great. But just seeing the growth from these kids and seeing the family that they have formed and bonded together is more valuable than any awards.”

Plaza Education Director Tina Barrus in 2018 was awarded the Freddie G. Fellowship along with $5,000, which she used to start Plaza Academy’s special needs programs and classes.

Join together

“All Together Now” provides a second fundraising opportunity for JTF students. No, it’s not the Beatles song, but rather a two-night performance of musical selections.

“So “All Together Now” is a joining together of 1,500 theaters across the world to celebrate the return of musical theater following the pandemic,” JaceSon Barrus said. “And we’re fortunate enough to be one of the participating theaters. What it is is that there are 60 songs to choose from and you can pick 15 to perform.”

“All Together Now” will run at 12:30 p.m. Nov. 13 and 7:30 p.m. Nov. 15 at Plaza Theatre Co. at Dudley Hall, 305 S. Anglin St.

Tickets, $25, are available from Plaza Academy students or online at plaza-theatre.com.

Elsewhere on the Plaza front, “Smoke on the Mountain’s” run at Dudley Hall continues through Oct. 23. Still up this year is “Little Women” from Oct. 29 to Nov. 20 and “Elf the Musical” from Nov. 26 to Dec. 23.

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