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Next chapter of asylum haunted house, ‘Deviant,’ opens Sept. 29


The Weston News

WESTON, W.Va. — Trans Allegheny Lunatic Asylum’s 10th annual fall haunted house, “Deviant,” opens its doors Sept. 29.

Haunted house coordinator John Jordan said “Deviant” is the next chapter revolving around Doctor Cerebus.

Tran Allegheny Lunatic Asylum’s next haunted house chapter “Deviant” opens at dark Sept. 29.
(Submitted photo)

“The haunted house is the continuing story of a doctor who is trying to live forever, looking for immortality,” Jordan said. “Every year, the haunted house is just another chapter in that story.”

Jordan explained why visitors to the asylum never see the demented doctor.

“It does no good to put the bad guy in the haunted house. If you don’t know what the bad guy looks like and what the bad guy’s doing, you’re going to worry about the bad guy,” Jordan said. “If I put the bad guy in the haunted house and you see that it’s just a person, then it’s just not near as scary.”

Several of the doctor’s patients, victims and living staff (made up of local residents and volunteers) were cast after auditions Aug. 25-26, as well as Friday, but auditions also take place at 5:30 p.m. Thursday. Interested actors should email [email protected].

The actor coordinator for the haunted house is Michelle Graham, who also directs plays at South Harrison High School.

“I used to work in a different role in the asylum, (and) I really just started out helping the actors because I’m really heavily involved with theater in Harrison County,” Graham said. “Since I had some acting experience and I also worked for the school board, I was helping to develop some characters, and I do homework help with some of our actors still in high school. Over the years, my role in the haunted house has increased.”

Haunted house auditions include improvisation activities “to see what their energy level is, what characters might fit them, what their capabilities are, if they are really creative, if they follow directions.” Further improvisation is also done in the haunted house before roles are assigned.

“We’re looking for a lot of different things when we do an audition to figure out where (actors) might fit. We have about a month of training that we do with our actors before we actually open the show to the public,” Graham said. “We had some new faces, which we are always excited to see, and we have a really nice core of actors who will usually return to audition with us every season.”

Graham said 40 to 50 actors are usually hired full-time and several volunteers also fill secondary roles. Stipend acting is also available for groups, such as university sororities or high school theater groups that need community service hours or are looking for a fundraiser.

New actors have to be at least 15 years old (16 to have a contract).

“It usually takes anywhere between 80 and 100 people to run the show every night,” Graham said.

Jordan and Graham said they began preparing for “Deviant” after last fall’s show closed.

“We’ll close at the beginning of November, and by the end of November, they’ll tear down this open house and start planning for the following year. It’s a year-long effort,” Graham said. “We’re always looking for new ways to incorporate different types of scares into our theme. Since it is an asylum-themed haunted house, it seems like it’s a little limited in what we can do, but John always comes up with a way to add more scare and new design elements that are really exciting. We’re always trying to take it to the next level in what people would expect.”

Graham praised Jordan for his scares and creativity.

“I love working with him. We’ve been friends for a really long time and are almost always on the same page when it comes to actors and scare positions,” Graham said. “It’s always amazing. The haunted house has just gotten better and better every year. It’s really fun to be a part of that.”

The cost for the haunted house is $25 plus tax. VIP tickets (which allow visitors to skip the line) are $40 plus tax.

The haunted house is open Thursday through Sunday for nearly five weeks in Weston. The haunted house is open from dark until 9:30 p.m. Thursdays and Sundays and from dark until 11:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. Ghost hunts will also continue during daylight hours during the same six weekends as the haunted house upon reservation, as well as flashlight tours every night of the haunted house for $10 plus tax and zombie paintball Fridays and Saturdays weather-permitting.

The Asylum Ball Halloween party is also scheduled Oct. 21 for those at least 18 years old.

Graham cautioned that images are “disturbing.” Those under 13 years of age must be accompanied by an adult.

Staff Writer Jonathan Weaver can be reached at (304) 626-1445 or [email protected]. Follow me on Twitter @jweaver_theet

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