Uh oh! The suspected murderer Jebediah Mott is still lurking in Bellport.
Is he in the kitchen overseeing bloody entrails on the table? Did he pop out from the window enroute to the “Welcome to Our Home” sign? What about that scarecrow? Funny how he looks like a neighbor we knew. And that booming thunder noise.
Prokofiev’s classic “Dance of the Knights,” it ain’t.
Over 100 people will pitch in as scary professional and volunteer actors, macabre lighting and sound experts, technical assistants and “helpers,” to guide you through The Gateway’s Haunted Playhouse, a terrifying maze of twists and turns past “Fear Flaps” through the old “Mott Farmhouse” during The Gateway’s Haunted Playhouse. It’s a two-week fundraiser that runs through October 31.
Haunt Director Michael Baker gave us the detailed scoop on the theme Friday afternoon of its inaugural night.
“There was a horrible event here years ago and the Mott Farm closed. The son of the farmer took revenge on the people who bullied his sister,” explained Baker. “He killed them, stuffed their bodies dressed as scarecrows, and hung them in the village. He also killed their father.”
The suspected Jebediah Mott is still at large.
You’ll see tractor equipment, loaned out from Isabella Rossellini’s Mama Farm by the entrance off South Country Road.
“We start with the tractors and farmhand bumpkins who worked for the missing Jebediah, except that they’re not bumpkins, they’re twisted wraiths and will be lurking,” Baker elaborated. “Possibly warning you not to come.”
The theme includes finding the distant family member who’s selling the farm equipment to prepare for a bank auction.
Along with the tractors, there’s a graveyard on the western area with headstones and ghoulish spectres.
The Midway is the queuing location before you enter inside. There’s a Guest Services stop with a sinister heckling puppet, a Zombie Shooting Gallery offering target shooting with haunted surprises, and a Coffin Ride.
“It’s an interactive carnival ride where you buy a token, get inside the coffin and have the experience of being buried alive,” Baker elaborated. “It’s a 4D interactive buried alive experience and there’s a monitor so guests can watch your reaction.”
Hired security will be present. Everyone will be wanded with bags and backpacks checked. Guests will have a placement number.
“When your number is called, you get in the que,” said Baker. A Fear Garden with beers on tap and a selection of wines for 21 and older, soft drinks and snacks are available. Billie Jean’s Grill food truck on select nights is available offering comfort foods.
Vice president of development and public relations Scot Allan said The Gateway had pulled out all the stops for this one after the pandemic. “We’re trying to get back to normal after Covid,” he said. “We also have a food truck on certain nights, brand new automation and lights. We’re very excited.”
Baker said acting-wise the zombies and ghouls involve paid actors, volunteers and youths from The Acting School. “We do an improvisational scare exercise every night,” he said. “It’s not scripted, and everyone knows the boundaries within the story.” Also, it takes six makeup artists two and a half hours to produce the makeup.
Gateway Rent director Matt Karis popped his head in during the interview. “He drove all the way from Virginia to work with us,” Baker pointed out. “We also have people coming in from other distances to be involved with this production.”
Gateway’s Haunted House fame, in its 13th year, has attracted fans far and wide because of its continual creativity and originality. “It happens all the time when I’m wearing a Gateway Haunted House jacket or sweatshirt in the village or elsewhere,” Baker said. “Someone always taps me on the shoulder to say how much they love it. I was even in Disney World, and someone came up to me and said, `Oh God, you work there? It’s great!”
Sidebar: Tickets for Gateway’s Haunted Playhouse are $40 online, $50 at the door. Go to www.FearLI.com to order. Fast Passes are available for additional charge. Recommended for ages 13 and older. Because of its intricate nature and narrow passageways, the production is not wheelchair accessible. A Not So Scary Kids Adventure is available Saturday and Sunday afternoon from noon to 4 p.m. in October recommended for children 3 and up. Tickets are $20 per person. (No infants. No strollers, carriages or baby carriers permitted in the tour.) For Tickets: Click on www.thegatewayshauntedplayhouse.com
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