2014 Halloween Haunt Award Nominees: Best Play in a Non-Theatrical Setting


Who says one needs a theatre to stage a play? During the Halloween season, several groups offer dreadful dramas in outre settings: cemeteries, mausoleums, crumbling mansions, and even a zoo. The immersive experience separates these productions from their more conventional brethren; in some cases, the plays come close to being walk-through haunted house events
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For our purposes, if a attraction features characters delivering scripted dialogue to tell a story that is repeated from performance to performance, then it qualifies as a play, regardless of how many haunted house elements are used to sweeten the bloody broth. On the other hand, an event that simply sets up a situation and then lets the cast improvise their interactions with the customers, does not qualify.

Because of the high quality exhibited by all the contestants, the competition in this category is particularly fierce; the distinction between winner and loser will be incremental.

And the nominees are...

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Drama After Dark Gorey Stories at Victoria Gardens

Drama After Dark

For Halloween 2014, this acting troupe gave two performances of their "Night of the Macabre with Poe and Gorey": the first at the Victoria Gardens Cultural Center in Rancho Cucamonga; the second at Night of the Living Zoo in the Los Angeles Zoo. Hollywood Gothique attended the latter event, witnessing three intriguing interpretations of the represented authors: a dramatic reading of Poe's "The Fall of the House of Usher"; a fearfully frightening staging of "The Cask of Amontillado"; and an antic potpourri of limericks by Gorey, enacted with engagingly over-the-top enthusiasm.

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Delusion Lies Within 2014 artwork

Delusion Lies Within

Set inside an old mansion in the West Adams district, this interactive play turns the audience into extras: rabid fans who break into the home of their favorite fantasy author, to solve the mystery of why she never finished her magnum opus. Loaded with illusions, stunts, and special effects, this comes closets of the nominees to crossing into Halloween haunt territory. Nevertheless, the story ties the set-pieces together from beginning to end, creating a unique experience unlike any other Halloween event in Los Angeles.

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Long Beach Historcal Cemetery Tour - Strange Sea Tales

Long Beach Historical Cemetery Tour

This daylight event has nothing of the macabre about it, but it does use the dramatic device of having actors impersonate the buried dead, telling their life stories and in the process revealing interesting lessons about the history of Long Beach. This Halloween featured nine different grave sites with monologues or dialogues, all skillfully written and superbly performed, including two that were nominated in the Best Short Halloween Play or Vignette category.

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Melissa Grace Perl as La Llorona at Wicked Lit
Melissa Grace Perl as La Llorona at Wicked Lit

The Wicked Lit Halloween Theatre Festival

Wicked Lit keeps getting better and better every year. Always entertaining, thanks in part to its setting in the Mountain View Mausoleum and Cemetery, the annual Halloween Theatre Festival has sharpened its dramatic skills over the years, crafting some memorable adaptations of classic horror literature, including two nominees for Best Short Halloween Play or Vignette. More importantly, during the past two seasons Wicked Lit has offered interstitial entertainment that ties its trio of terror tales into a unified whole whose cumulative impact exceeds the sum of its p