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The Children’s Theatre The Best Haunted House Ever

By • Nov 2nd, 2010 • Category: Reviews
The Best Haunted House Ever by Pat Cook
Encore Stage (The Children’s Theatre)
Thomas Jefferson Theater, Arlington, VA
Through November 7th
1:30 with one intermission
$10/$8 Seniors, Students and Children
Reviewed October 30th, 2010

At first glance, a show performed over the Halloween weekend with a title of The Best Haunted House Ever, you could be forgiven if you thought the show would be scary and inappropriate for children. The Best Haunted House Ever is actually more a comedy than a thriller, although there were quite a few surprises scattered throughout the show.

The Best Haunted House Ever features a spooky old house where a former teacher did experiments on students, two different groups of high school students who each think the house is a great place for a haunted house fundraiser, and enough other surprises to make you wonder if the house really is haunted.

The set was designed by Michael C. Null, and featured several doors, a window, and a hidden entrance. As seems to happen at this theater, the stage was far too large. The only set pieces were a sofa and a chair, so the cast had to do a lot of walking as they tried to figure out what was happening in the house. That also affected the energy and timing of the show, as frequently one group was sneaking out a doorway at the same moment some other group was sneaking in. There was a very funny bit involving a skeleton in the room, including a very well done surprise special effect.

The student roles themselves were fine, with most of the funniest lines being given to the boys. The adult roles (the policeman and the professor) were handled by students, and other than some crazy overacting to the fear, they were believable. A running gag involved someone seeing something that no one else could, and the ones who couldn’t see the “ghost” did very well in not letting their eyes follow the “ghost” around the room.

There were a few surprises that might scare the very young, but overall this is much more a comedy than a thriller. Go and enjoy yourself.

Program Notes

Welcome to a new season with Encore Stage & Studio! Thank you for choosing to spend an afternoon or evening with our Encore’s young actors and backstage Crew. The Best Haunted House Ever is a great comic showcase for these talented local kids, and we invite you to get into the “spirit” and scream along if you like!

Speaking of houses, Encore stage and studio has anew business address: the Artsphere, Arlington’s exciting new cultural center in Rosslyn. Our new Executive Director Sara Strehle Duke has a desk there on the upper level, along with five or six other art organizations. Stop by and say hello the next time you’re walking through: it is an inspiring , beautiful space for arts of all kinds. Encore’s performances will continue to be in the Thomas Jefferson Theatre, though: TJ remains our theatrical home.

We want to give a shout-out to the students of two of Encore’s summer programs, Stage Door and Teens & Tweens, who are having a reunion at The Best Haunted House Ever on November 6. And our heartiest applause goes to the T-shirt Award Winners, a group of Encore participants who helped raise money during Encore’s second annual fundraiser last spring. These kids created web pages and asked their friends and relatives for donations. THANK YOU for all your help in making Encore’s programs stronger.

Thanks for your patience as we upgraded to our brand new ticketing system! Now you can purchase your tickets online, select your own seats, print your own tickets, and make exchanges, all with the convenience of a credit card! With our new system, both online and at the box office, we hope to provide you and your family with the outstanding customer service you’ve come to expect from Encore Stage & Studio. Visit our website, www.encorestage.org, and give it a try!

Photo Gallery

Bobby Trono and Sean Gilley Thomas Kelty and Harrison Curtis
Bobby Trono and Sean Gilley
Thomas Kelty and Harrison Curtis

Photos by Larry McClemons.

Disclaimer: Encore Stage (The Children’s Theatre) provided two complimentary media tickets to ShowBizRadio for this review. Also, for only the second time in over 500 shows reviewed, we arrived late to the theater. We spoke with the director (Frank Pasqualino) afterwards, and he said that it was fine with him if we still published our thoughts about the show.

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started ShowBizRadio in August 2005 because they love live theater. They each have both performed in and worked behind the scenes in DC area productions, as well as earned a Career Studies Certificate in Theater from Northern Virginia Community College. Mike & Laura are each members of the American Theatre Critics Association, and Mike is a member of the Online News Association.

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