By MICHAEL GEOFFRION SCANNELL
Published October 15, 2020
NORTH READING — The North Reading High School Masquers is excited to present its Haunted Walk Thru for the community on Friday and Saturday, Oct. 23-24.
“It is our second annual Haunted Playground but with a socially distanced and COVID-safe twist that will allow the community to continue to enjoy the experience,” explained Masquers senior co-President Rachel Schladenhauffen.
Through a series of more than 20 skits, the Masquers will tell the story of a mad scientist who wants to take over North Reading. Patrons will walk the perimeter of the school and the narrative will unfold during each two-minute skit. Schladenhauffen said the socially distanced walking tour should take approximately 45 minutes to an hour.
“The show must go on, although in a modified fashion,” Masquers Vice President Gianna Naulivou said. “It’s the objective of the audience to solve this mystery and save North Reading!”
The event will be open from 6:30-9:30 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 23 and from 5:30-9:30 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 24. Schladenhauffen said the group hopes to host 1,500-1,800 guests over the two days in the upper parking lot of the high school, 189 Park St.
Due to safety regulations, the audience must sign up ahead of time for a performance slot and pay online. Tickets are $10 per person; children age 2 and under are free. Patrons can sign up in small groups, and are asked to arrive no more than 10 minutes ahead of their time slot to keep the line short.
Masks and social distancing are mandatory. No food or restrooms will be available. There will be handicapped-accessible parking. In the spirit of Halloween, the Masquers hope to see many community members dress up and embrace the holiday to add to the fun.
Audience members will be required to check in at the lower lot and stay in their cars until a few minutes before their time slot. The audience will then proceed up Jon Bernard Way and park in the upper lot. The NRPD will be assisting in placing cones to encourage the audience to park apart from one another.
The audience will then walk to a check-in desk, manned by a parent volunteer and show their paperless tickets. Everyone will walk in one direction only and stay with their families/group. Volunteer parents will be stationed along the way to ensure these rules are followed.
Most of the sound will be pre-recorded and no live singing will take place during the performance per CDC and DESE guidelines. One live performance by a student drummer and saxophonist will be part of the act.
Months of planning
Schladenhauffen explained that the Masquers is a truly student-run organization with a group of eight student officers at the helm supported by Theatre Arts Director Allison Kane, who is their teacher at NRHS. Student representatives met with school administrators, police and fire officials and the entire Board of Health during the long planning process that stretched back to May and June.
By July, the Masquers knew they were not going to be able to put on a haunted playground as they had the previous autumn. According to the thespians, they had to re-envision the show because the format needed to be altered so much.
Spread out across 22 different scenes and skits filled with everyone’s favorite movie and cartoon characters, this event promises to be fun for the whole family.
Tickets went on sale earlier this week. “It will be pretty amazing. In typical Masquers fashion, we have come up with an extremely entertaining experience within the confines and parameters that keep both student and community safe,” commented Kane.
“Theatre will persist. Honestly, without it I feel empty and I know the students did too,” Kane added. She went on to say, “For all the steps we had to take, this has been the best and most creative experience we’ve had in a long time and I think the audience will agree that it’s needed, wanted and enjoyed!”
To order tickets, go to: https://masquers.weebly.com/haunted-walk-thru.