The shadow-screen was down in front of the Lend Me a Tenor set on stage. We all sat in three rows near the middle of the house, excitement rising in palpable waves. The officers were in front, all five of them, facing the rest of us. We discussed how things were going so far, and what would be happening next. And then we started the run.
The haunted house began right where we were seated, in the theatre. N. got up on the stage. L., a girl I’ve known since kindergarten, done up in bloody rags, slipped behind the screen.
N., in the character of a nerdy professor, welcomed us to the haunted house and announced that he would be showing us a clip from an early horror film.
A few minutes into the Méliès production, the picture broke up into screen snow.
“That’s not supposed to happen,” N.-the-professor told us. “I’m going to go back and fix the projector.”
He strode around behind the screen, and his shadow appeared in a square of light. Then another figure joined him there. L.’s. She crept up behind him and “stabbed” him.
The square of light faded, and the stage was lit in dull red. A heartbeat sound effect began, and L., as Carrie from the movie of the same name, crawled out from beneath the shadow screen.
Backstage, there was a muffled crash, followed by what sounded very much like “Son of a bitch!” Not everybody noticed though.
The lights were brought up for notes. That was the original intent, at least.
“L.!” N. shouted from behind the shadow screen. “I broke the fucking fruit bowl!”
You know something’s gone wrong when N. swears. The primary concern was for his safety: this was, after all, the same kid who had slipped and dislocated his thumb the day before. Earlier this year, he also managed to fall down a full flight of stairs coming down from the school library, injuring his elbow. Hopefully, in this instance, the prop fruit bowl was the only thing broken.
It was. The glass was quickly swept up, and we ran through the scene again, this time with some ambient light behind the screen to reduce the likelihood of N. causing any further damage to the Lend Me a Tenor set. Then we proceeded on to the “It stairway.”