Will NYC’s haunted houses come back to life for Halloween?
Thankfully, New York City is starting to get back on its feet after getting slammed by superstorm Sandy; for example, Broadway is slated to relight today after three days of cancellations. But what about nighttime activities a little more suited to the holiday spirit? After all, though we’re all seeking reassurance that the sun will indeed come back out for our fair city tomorrow, “Annie” doesn’t exactly set the tone for Allhallows Eve.
A few weeks ago, we posted a roundup of haunted houses and spooky shows throughout the boroughs. But although the Great White Way is resurrecting with the gumption of a Shakespearean ghost (though not, it should be noted, the closed musical “Ghost”), smaller shows citywide have been struggling to get back on their feet. Today, we checked back in with our sources to find out how those houses fared through power outages and flooding.
“Gowanus ’73: Warehouse of Horrors” — an immersive theater experience put on by UglyRhino at the Brooklyn Lyceum — is ready to restage in terms of talent availability and company resources, but remains closed tonight due to loss of electricity and public transportation. Nicole Rosner and Danny Sharron, co-artistic directors, say that the company stands to lose 30% of its projected revenue from this show thanks to the storm. They hope to recoup by rescheduling Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday performances next week. However, the company will have to play it by ear and find out if audiences will want to come after Halloween. “The demand has been so great that it seems like it would work, but you never know,” surmises Sharron. “Gowanus” was originally scheduled to close on Nov. 1 and was sold out for the remainder of its run.
In Manhattan, KILLERS: A Nightmare Haunted House has no power but is aiming to find a solution with generators to get the doors open in time for tonight. “We can’t recoup the loss,” says director John Harlachter. “All we can do is lose less. We are trying to add some shows for those who couldn’t make it.” Like UglyRhino, the company faces unique challenges with which other off-Broadway acts don’t have to contend. Harlachter explains: “We are a seasonal business and generally spend the entire time leading up to the weekend before Halloween breaking even. This week is where any profits come, so this is pretty devastating for all of us.” This means not only a loss of ticket sales for the company, which told us earlier in the month that it spends more than half a million dollars per production, but it also means the 50 actors that KILLERS employs will lose a significant portion of their income. “The actors get paid per show, so they are losing money along with the creative team and producer,” notes Harlachter. “Some of us make most of our livelihood from this show. I will probably need to bartend or something, [but] some have had it much worse from this storm so I consider myself lucky.”
Unsurprisingly, Times Scare in Midtown was in the heart of the city and therefore was the least affected; it actually reopened yesterday at 5 p.m. Ira Freehof, general manager of the space, said: “We are the only haunted house in NYC still open [as of Tuesday], and the post-hurricane atmosphere makes the experience extra creepy — especially with our newly expanded ‘Haunt’ section (part of the high-tech haunted house).” This one may be your safest bet for tonight’s festivities. If you’re bold enough to outlast Sandy and then brave the storm’s aftermath to get out there, surely some creepy characters, scary sound effects and light tricks will seem like child’s play — but then again, there’s only one way to find out.