The Haunted Mountain Experience Brings Spooky Outdoor Drama to Chillicothe
Includes Escape Room Challenge, Haunted Trail
Story & Photos by Matt Bayman
CHILLICOTHE - Each October, the same outdoor stage in Chillicothe where Tecumseh: The Ultimate Outdoor Drama Experience! is performed transforms into a spooky backdrop for a Halloween-themed drama. In 2019, it was The Sleepy Hollow Experience. In 2021, it was The Passion of Dracula! This year, it will be Stories of the Undead.
Halloween shows, which are not necessarily child-friendly, take place every Friday and Saturday in October at the Sugarloaf Mountain Amphitheatre. The theater is located in a remote area of the rolling and wooded foothills that surround Chillicothe.
Shows are performed at night, often beneath moonlight and stars that seem closer up on “the mountain,” with moody lighting, music and special effects greeting the audience even before the show starts, and increasing during it. The sound of crickets and frogs in the woods, and the real possibility of a raccoon, possum or even a deer walking through the background adds to the mood.
Each show is a mix between a musical and a theatrical play, with a talented group of actors utilizing every inch of the outdoor stage and a host of props.
During The Sleepy Hollow Experience, for example, the audience views the show from three different vantage points. They start in the regular stadium seats. In the second half of the show, the entire audience is invited to a pond on the main stage, where the performance continues. Finally, the audience moves to a barn near the stage, where the final scenes of the show play out, complete with a headless horseman riding a real horse through the middle of the barn while carrying a flaming torch, several times!
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During The Passion of Dracula!, the stage is transformed into the interior of a castle in the middle of a dark forest. At one point during the show, a gun battle erupts outside of the castle, with real guns using blanks firing off and people riding on real horses heightening the experience. These are all things only an outdoor show can get away with.
This year’s show will no doubt carry on some of these same traditions and stage antics.
The playbill for Stories of the Undead reads: “Our play finds an aging jaded theatre critic recounting his obsession with a young actress, and how that obsession leads to a journey into a macabre world of vampires from which he almost can’t escape.”
Tickets for the show are $22.50. However, most people choose to purchase the full Halloween VIP experience for $35 per person. This option includes an escape room challenge and a haunted “curiosities trail.”
The curiosities trail is similar to the end of The Sleepy Hollow Experience, where the audience is invited to enjoy a haunted trail in the woods behind the stage area, kind of like a finale to the whole evening. It involves many of the cast members from the show acting as monsters on the trail and is quite elaborate.
This year, the escape room, as well as a pub where food and beverages are available, opens at 6:30 p.m. both nights. The pub offers pizza, breadsticks, chili cheese dogs, popcorn, nachos and pretzels, apple cider, pumpkin pie and beer, soda, coffee and hot chocolate, among other items. The show begins at 7:30 p.m. and lasts a little over an hour. During this time, the escape room and trail are closed. They reopen right after the show ends with last call for both at 11 p.m. There are a limited number of Halloween VIP tickets available. They can be ordered at hauntedmountain.org or by calling (866) 775-0700. The Haunted Trail and Escape Room (without the show) is available for $20. Learn more HERE.
If you’re a fan of scary, macabre things, and looking for a new, festive tradition, the Halloween show at the Sugarloaf Mountain Amphitheater is a very unique and worthwhile experience the delivers the fun. The fun can be added to by combining a show with a visit to the Chillicothe Halloween Festival on Oct. 7-9 or the nearby Circleville Pumpkin Show on Oct. 19-22, or by visiting the rolling Appalachian foothills in the area during the peak of fall color, including at Tar Hollow State Forest.