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Spooky spectacle: the author behind the mask

After graduating from Miami University in May, Holly West wasn’t sure what kind of job she’d get. She certainly wasn’t expecting it to be spooky.

West, a theatre and media and culture major while at Miami, has been working as an actress in a Halloween show at Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio since September. In the show, called “Midnight Syndicate: Creatures of Darkness,” West plays a mannequin that comes to life.

Despite her background in theatre, West says acting in a Halloween show is much different than any other production she’s been in. Though it’s not quite a haunted house, the show is still interactive and intended to scare the audience.

“It’s a lot different. When you’re in a theater performing on a stage, you’re kind of separated from the audience,” West said. “You stay in character because there’s a barrier. In a non-traditional context like this, you’re more connected to [the audience]. You’re right next to one another so, when they react, you’re right there. You’re breaking the fourth wall.”

West says she’s occasionally broken character by laughing at the reactions of her audience. In the show, she makes her entrance by switching places with a fake mannequin during a blackout and then goes out into the audience to try to scare them. This generates a variety of reactions from the crowd — some people run to the other end of their aisle, some scream, some shout out random questions, from asking whether she’s real to how she did her hair.

This interactive element is what really makes the show fun for West.

“I really like hearing people talk in the audience,” West said. “People say the weirdest things.”

West says she’s not actually a big fan of scary movies or haunted houses, but she’s enjoyed being one of the people doing the scaring.

“I am not a fan of really scary things, so it’s really ironic that I’m in this show,” West said. “There’s jump scares and stuff in the show I’d normally run away from. But being on the opposite end and doing the scaring is really cool.” 

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