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The Highlander

The Student News Site of McLean High School

The Highlander

The Student News Site of McLean High School

The Highlander

Students behind the scare

McLean students work behind the scenes of “Haunt: Game Over” at the Workhouse Arts Center
Workhouse Arts Center
A creepy character from inside the haunted trail peers out of their hideout to scare guests. Each night, there are around 60 actors stationed throughout the trail.

Have you ever wondered what goes on behind the darkness and the trees of a haunted trail? The efforts that go into perfecting each scary scene? Some McLean students know all the answers to these questions and more, operating the performance Haunt: Game Over at the Workhouse Arts Center in Lorton, a haunted trail that immerses guests in a variety of creepy sights.
The Haunt provides a unique job opportunity for those interested in performance production and all things spooky. Junior Allie Vargo has found that the Haunt provides the perfect opportunity to utilize her skills in tech theater.
“I do stage management at Theatre McLean and a lot of what I’m doing at the Haunt is very closely related, such as facilitating communication across a vast network of people,” Vargo said. “On the Haunt trail, communication is even more essential, because our trail is spread out over a mile so if there’s an emergency, I’m the one who’s able to get that information to everyone.“
Not only does the Haunt provide a unique job opportunity for high school students, but also a caring and fun community for its employees.
“I love the people I work with, they’re some of the funniest people I’ve ever met and it’s really interesting too because there’s quite a range of ages and people involved,” Vargo said. “The managers and bosses are nice as well, although it can get strict sometimes since there are a lot of people to organize and a lot of people to manage, so it can be stressful, but ultimately everyone’s trying to make it the best experience possible for the actors and the guests.”
In addition to the chilling scares and harrowing displays along the trail, the Haunt offers entertainment for guests at the front entrance which adds to the eerie atmosphere and immersive experience.
“My favorite part about working there is the live music every night,” senior Maxwell Mlatisuma said. “I get to listen to the bands play at the front of the house and they’re all really good.”
The history of the Workhouse Arts Center is strangely connected to the frightening themes of the Haunt as well.
“The building used to be an abandoned prison and was transformed into an arts center through government funding,” tech theater teacher Phil Reid said. “Now it’s an art commune for painting, sculptures and theater, and it’s a really unique space for a scary Haunt festival.”
As the creepy history of the Haunt creates an ideal venue for this bewitching experience, the main aspects of this job that appeal to the employees are the community, the flexible hours and, of course, the scares.
“It’s really funny to see people get scared, we get a lot of guests to run through, and the screams are really entertaining,” Vargo said. “But overall, it’s really the people who you meet there and the freedom you have to just have fun while you’re working that make the job enjoyable.”
The Haunt will open on Halloween night at 6 pm and dispatch the final group at 8:30 pm. Tickets are available to purchase here: Workhouse Arts Center Events.

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