EVERY BUILDING ON the Lower East Side has a nasty doorman, but Richard Jordan is in a class all his own. If youve ever tried to enter his establishment, a building on the corner of Rivington and Suffolk streets, youve probably been treated to his special greeting; Jordan welcomes guests by stalking around the buildings lobby and hissing as he pounces on them, his head clad in a stocking. He is, after all, the welcome wagon at Nightmare, the largest haunted house in the entire country.
Outfitted with more costumed actors than animatronics, the five-year-old attraction isnt any old spook shack, and players like Jordan, a veteran of the Metropolitan Operas 2005 production of Aida, and about 24 other actors, go a long way to bring the sick vision of the houses creator,Timothy Haskell, to life. Though hes very serious about frightening his customersNightmares rooms are constructed based on the results of a survey of peoples worst, well, nightmarescamp comes just as easily to Haskell, who previously worked several off-Broadway adaptations of iconic 1980s trash. He first brought the curtain up on his house in 2004, a year after he directed a stage adaptation of the kitsch classic Roadhouse and a year before he struck again with Fatal Attraction: A Greek Tragedy.
To Haskell, separating camp and chills is a big mistake. Its harder to do anything that has to do with the fantastic straight up, Haskell says. I tell my actors all the time that if theyre going to try to jump out at someone and scare them, dont lingerthe thought process is Youre very real and very harmless.
Its so easy to see the artifice of it all. In fact, keeping contact with visitors to a minimum allows Haskell to add suspense to the performance and keep reality to a minimum. You can go silly and campy, which I think I do plenty of times in the haunted house, he continues, or you can go for reality the entire time, where you cant have them touch you or grab you or do anything real. By virtue of that, you can either be
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