Tension was high as actors of all ages gathered on a hot and windy Saturday afternoon for one of the final days of the Fright Fair character auditions in the Farm Center at Pierce College on September 7.
“We are always looking for energy, the ability to hold character, and enthusiasm,” said Michael Keane, General Manager of the Fright Fair portion of this year’s Harvest Festival, a fall event centered on the Halloween holiday. “We want to see our actors perform out here in the daylight without costumes and makeup because if they can perform well out here, then we’ll really know what they can do inside the house.”
After the formalities of filling out an application and other paperwork, the actors lined up for a “character walk” in which the auditoners would begin to roam the area casually until Keane would shout out a specific scenario for the actors to jump into the middle of. The scene changes range as diversely as the moment at the height of being killed, to the initial act of murdering somebody from behind. “The reason we do that is to see their creative side and see what we have to work with.” Keane said.
After the character walk, the single auditions begin. One by one, the actors come up, state their name and age, and present the character they will be performing before the camera that will be capturing their audition. Zombie acts as well as demon possessed children portrayals were presented to the staff running the audition. After the prepared scene by the actor, Keane would then call out a random scene that must be improvised with very little time to prepare.
“I’ve done this kind of thing before because I run my own haunted house at my own house,” said 16-year-old Jake Koffman. “I also act as characters in my friend’s haunted houses as well.”
Six year Fright Fair veteran Michael Scott has performed in all the scare zones at the Fright Fair year after year.
“I auditioned one year, really liked it, and just kept coming back,” Scott said.
Starting in 2008, Scott has returned every year for his role as “Corn-fed Jed”.
“Back when he was alive, Corn-fed Jed was a prize corn grower until his wife caught him cheating. Not liking that at all, she grabbed his gun and shot him dead,” Scott said. “The corn maze that guests enter belonged to Jed back when he was alive and he doesn’t like strangers in his field messing around with his prize winning corn.”
Having worked all three scare zones, Scott prefers to work the Insane Reaction scare zone: the most recent addition to the Fright Fair lineup.
“I like Insane Reaction most because there are more ways I can scare guests,” Scott said. “There are more chicken exits there than our other attractions, and I like to use those to get around faster, making it possible to hit a guest from the back, then quickly move through the door to get in front of them, and then hit them again but this time from the front.”
The Insane Reaction scare zone is the newest addition to the lineup of the Fright Fair, opening up just 5 years ago.
“Originally it was just fences around the area and you could clearly see the actors through it,” Keane said. “But what made it interesting was the fact that it was an actual maze in which our guest could get lost in. We’ve since changed that and now our actors have a lot more places to hide inside of the maze. We are always looking forward to make things better.”
The Fright Fair costs of admission are $13 per attraction with special deals on multi-attraction tickets. The scare zones officially open September 27 at dusk and run until November 3.