A bone-chilling play: “The House on Haunted Hill” opening Oct. 29


Courtesy of Chelsea Krause

Senior biological sciences and general studies double major Leigh Moore rehearse with stage partner Payton Core. “The House on Haunted Hill” will be opening on Oct. 29 at the Columbia Theatre.

Despite the main stage of the Columbia Theatre suffering from water damage from Hurricane Ida, the theatre will be opening its spooky fall play production, “The House on Haunted Hill” on Friday, Oct. 29 in their new Studio Theatre space.

The Columbia has made efforts to convert its Conference Center into a theater space for its productions until the main stage is fixed. 

Artistic director of the Columbia and director of this production, James “Jim” Winter, discussed his dealings with the rehearsal process, including the difficulties Ida brought.

“I’d be lying if I said it has been a smooth ride. This production was conceived and designed for an 830-seat auditorium with full technical capabilities. Instantly pivoting to putting it in a large room with limited technical capabilities is demanding. My staff here at the Columbia and the guest designers working on the show have all been amazing about this and I actually think it is going to be a better show than it would have been in the main auditorium,” Winter said. 

Even while Ida had its vices, there were some upsides from the hurricane. 

Winter noted when all of his actors and actresses started to resume rehearsals, they were “hungry and sharp.” He could see that this cast is ready for some lights and a crowd to showcase their talent and dedication in this production. 

“The House on Haunted Hill” is Tommy Jamerson’s stage adaptation of the Vincent Price film where a millionaire throws a birthday party for his wife in an off-putting and possibly haunted mansion and the invitees are told they must survive the night in order to win the cash prize in the morning.

Actress and senior English major Ally Holloway said she loves the fact that this play originated from an older movie. 

“I was raised on old Hollywood, so getting to perform an adaptation of a movie from the 50s is a dream,” Holloway said about some of her favorite aspects of this show. 

Holloway also mentioned loving the layers that her character Annabelle has and that getting to explore that character is intriguing. 

Seniors Ally Holloway and DeJuan James practice on stage as their characters Annabelle and Dr. Trent. (Courtesy of Chelsea Krause)

“The House on Haunted Hill” has also caused new and old paths to cross as Holloway has been in past shows with some of the other actors involved, such as senior education major DeJuan James. 

James also expressed joy in working with familiar faces and stated that as the days until opening inch closer, it can be a very terrifying yet exciting new chapter to open in the rehearsal process. 

“It’s the beginning of the end in a way because eventually we’re going to be done with the show that we have been working so hard on, but I am very much looking forward to getting the audience in our space to see what we have been working on since August,” James stated.   

James encouraged all to come out and see this show as the new space allows more scares to be in the audience’s face and overall be a more intimate show than originally planned. Winter also said that audience members should expect to truly feel like a guest in “The House on Haunted Hill” and that action would be happening all around the audience in 360 degrees. 

When encouraging people to come see this show, Holloway added, “I almost wish I could experience it myself as an audience member. This show is wild and spooky and it is absolutely perfect that we are opening Halloween weekend. Everyone should witness the result of the work we have put in if they can, I promise it will be worth it.”  

“The House on Haunted Hill” will have a preview night for SLU honors students on Oct. 28,  along with their official weekend dates starting on Oct. 29 and Oct. 30 at 7:30 p.m. The play will continue on the weekends of Nov. 5-6 and Nov. 12-13.     

To get tickets for “The House on Haunted Hill,” check out the Columbia’s website or get them at the box office the night of the production at the Columbia Theatre.