Wildly wicked

Wildly wicked

Wicked Lit celebrates its fifth anniversary with its most immersively frightening experience yet

By Carl Kozlowski 10/09/2013

Like it? Tweet it! SHARE IT!

Jonathan Josephson and his cohorts in Unbound Productions love frightening people in highly inventive ways, offering an antidote to the cheap thrills found in standard haunted houses.

For the past four years, they have terrified fans of smart scares by producing live adaptations of classic horror stories by the likes of Edgar Allan Poe and H.P. Lovecraft in such eclectic places as the Greystone Mansion in Beverly Hills and Altadena’s Mountain View Mausoleum and Cemetery.
The public response has been tremendous, with last year’s edition drawing nearly 2,000 people to the mausoleum. For their fifth anniversary, the team — including Josephson’s co-artistic directors Paul Millet and Jeff G. Rack — is promising more lavish productions than ever, including world premiere adaptations of Lovecraft’s “The Lurking Fear” and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s “The New Catacomb” in addition to reviving their wildly popular version of Washington Irving’s “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.”

Better yet, the show doesn’t just begin with the official productions. Rather, the trio and their team of actors, effects wizards and set designers are trying to make this year’s event a scary experience from the moment patrons arrive until they are cast free into the darkness again at the end of the show.

“From the very beginning we wanted to make 2013 the best Wicked Lit ever, so we wanted to put a premium on the storytelling and on the immersive nature of the experience,” says Josephson. “Not only is there a substantial pre-show at 7 o’clock, but a series of performances in the lobby before the 7:30 curtain and during the two intervals, and after the show is the ‘Masque of the Red Death’ experience.”

While most of the stories presented in the show are standard short plays set in unique spaces, such as “Sleepy Hollow” occurring in the heart of the cemetery, the “Masque” portion of the evening promises to pull out all the stops to make an impression. The idea is to make viewers feel as if they are surrounded “360 degrees” by the terrifying elements of these stories.

“It’s drawn from all aspects of Edgar Allan Poe,” explains Josephson. “There are poems, parts of the actual story, other story parts by Poe and a song and dance inspired by Poe. There’s a song inspired by ‘The Raven’ and one by ‘The Bells,’ with a songwriting team actually performing three times in the show with three different songs.”

As the head of a team with more than 50 people involved with making the entire evening spectacular, Josephson is eager to share the spotlight with those who bring the creative aspect to life. One member who’s particularly excited is Eric DeLoretta, who is playing Ichabod Crane in “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” just a year after he watched last year’s scarefest as an audience member.

“It is literally a dream come true,” says DeLoretta. “I came to Wicked Lit last year as an audience member and was so enchanted by the magic of it all that I knew I had to be a part of it somehow. When I got cast as Ichabod Crane, I was over the moon. I love this character. I am Ichabod in so many ways. It has been oddly therapeutic to connect with this character, and to bring this story to life with such a talented cast and crew is a dream.”
This year’s edition features what Josephson promises is Wicked Lit’s most intense horror story yet: Doyle’s “The New Catacomb,” which he says has a “very intense ending.” Meanwhile, “Sleepy Hollow” marks the first time the troupe has revived a show from a prior year, although they will be improving it with a “big special effects team working on the climax of a horse chase through the cemetery.”

But all that appears to pale in comparison to Lovecraft’s “The Lurking Fear,” which Josephson describes as “an adventure play, where the whole time the audience is moving and running. It moves much faster than any other play we’ve done. Your attention is focused a different way, and you’ve gotta run because everybody has to run or everyone dies. They might get eaten by the monster, so it’s like an Indiana Jones adventure.”

Put it all together, it’s easy to see why Wicked Lit audiences keep growing and harried producers keep coming back for more.

“It is a very challenging show to put up, but also a lot of fun and memorable, unique fun,” says Rack, who not only produces this year but co-wrote “The Lurking Fear” and directed “Sleepy Hollow.”

“People talk about our shows all the time, so they leave a strong imprint,” he says. “The combination of classic horror literature and site-specific theater makes it a very different kind of experience. And all of that combined makes for a very fun evening.”

Unbound Productions presents Wicked Lit at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays through Sundays through Nov. 2 at Mountain View Mausoleum & Cemetery, 2300 N. Marengo Ave., Altadena. Tickets are $45 to $52. For show information and tickets, visit wickedlit.org or call (323)332-2065 before 5 p.m. daily.

DIGG | del.icio.us | REDDIT

Like it? Tweet it!

Other Stories by Carl Kozlowski

Related Articles

Post A Comment

Requires free registration.

(Forgotten your password?")