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Monday, September 27, 2021

Halloween at Wright Hall

In the next few weeks leading up to Oct. 31, Wright Hall, home of UC Davis’ theatre and dance department, will be housing several Halloween-related services and events.

First is the Enchanted Cellar, a costume-rental service with an ever-growing library of diverse costumes. Although the Cellar has been providing year-round service since 2008, the Halloween season marks a temporary change in operations with special hours for viewing, trying on and renting costumes from Oct. 17 to 31.

Among the most recently offered costumes are Catwoman, Steampunk-themed costumes and both Black Widow and Thor from The Avengers.

Roxanne Femling, director of the costume shop at UC Davis, gave us an idea of just how unique and detailed these costumes are.

“Many of our costumes are from our past productions … and we add accessories to them. For the past three years we have actually started building costumes just for rentals,” Femling said. “Our costumes set us apart because they are built for quality, durability and close authenticity. When we create costumes, we research all details to make the character look like the original drawing, photo or filmstrip.”

Not only will customers be able to choose from the wide and ever-changing selection in storage – about 20,000 individual items including jewelry and hats – but there are further perks in visiting the Cellar, with a 50 percent discount offered to students, faculty, staff and affiliates of UC Davis.

Next week will also see the theatre department’s crowning seasonal event in “The Haunt at Wright Hall,” an immersive walk-through haunted house culminating in a Halloween dance party. This will be the first in what will become an annual event put on at Wright Hall.

This year’s inaugural edition, which will debut on Oct. 25, will be a unique mixture, equal parts live performance and more conventional haunted house scares. A good deal of preparation has gone into the scripting and direction of the event, themed on an old gothic tale called The Handless Maiden.

Bella Merlin, theatre professor and one of the The Haunt’s directors, explains what makes it more complex and involved than the average Haunted House.

“The twisted fairy tale  element means that the audience will have a narrative thread through each section, and be very close to the action throughout,” Merlin said.

According to artistic director Josy Miller, the experience is broken into seven segments.

“Each space the audience moves through allows them to encounter another piece of the story,” Miller said. “Some are scripted versus some that are mazes with more traditional haunted house elements.”

In total, the event takes 35 to 40 minutes to experience, and visitors also have the opportunity to stay for a dance party at its conclusion.

For those fearful souls interested only in the dancing and festivities, the party will be held in the Arena Theatre at Wright Hall. The party will continue the general theme of The Haunt, with scenic design by Travis Kerr, the production designer for the event.

The music will consist mostly of current hits along with a few seasonal favorites (get ready to do the “Thriller” dance!). Costumes are optional and attendees may dress as they wish to have a frighteningly good time.

The Haunt will take place Oct. 25 to 28 and Oct. 30 to 31. The haunted house runs from 7:30 to 10:30 p.m. starting every half hour, and the dance party runs from 7:30 to midnight.

For more information on the Enchanted Cellar’s special hours, visit theatredance.ucdavis.edu/costumes or call (530) 752-0740.

ANDREW RUSSELL can be reached at arts@theaggie.org. 

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