In this edition of the “Reaper’s Revenge Blog,” we are proud to give you insight into the insanity that thrives in the infamous “Lost Carnival” attraction featured at Reaper’s Revenge. “Lost Carnival” is an authentic trip through a twisted nightmare, a crew of circus freaks, and their cohorts that are focused on using their dark humor and aggression to torment each guest. While many haunted attractions have “carnival” themed attractions, none master the art of immersion, like the “Lost Carnival.”
Reapers Revenge Blog (RR Blog): We would like to introduce and thank the leadership team and staff of “The Lost Carnival,” Jen Marino, Kelley Michael, Nick Moczulski (Mike Wazowski), Anya Burgerhoff, Alicia Kohut, and Deanna Spak.
Jen Marino (Jen): “I have never been much for ‘titles’ so ,beyond saying that I am ‘the wearer of many hats’ and ‘feral cat wrangler’ here we go-I am the Costume and prop Director and Designer ( with a small team who work under me), part of our Creative and Set Design team,work as part of our Production Management team across the whole mountain to ensure our show is running correctly, Controller of the Lost Carnival , offsite event coordination …among various other responsibilities. Oh, and once in a while, I actually get to clown around! When in character I go by the name ‘ Backagain.’”
Kelley Michael (Kelley): “I am a member of Reaper’s Revenge Creative and Scenic Design Team, specializing in the following areas: VP of of Creative Thinking/Winging it/Set Design/Actor Training/Scare Acting/Lighting & Audio Design/Construction and Destruction (spelled correctly!) I am also a Lead Actor Trainer for Reapers Revenge and head actor trainer for the “Lost Carnival” attraction.”
Alica Kohut (Alicia): “ I am an actor supervisor for the Lost Carnival and serve in a variety of creative and supervisory roles. I’m 24 years old, and this is my 9th year working in the haunt industry. I’ve spent most of that time working for Reapers Revenge, starting out as an actor on the hayride. I spent a few years acting while simultaneously working on our SFX makeup team, eventually finding my way to the Lost Carnival. I spent two years living in Philadelphia, during which I had the opportunity to act at Terror Behind the Walls at Eastern State Penitentiary. I moved back to this area 3 years ago and was promoted to an actor supervisor. In recent years I’ve been become increasingly involved with the creative build process at Reapers Revenge. It’s been amazing to see some of my ideas slowly come to life. I make my own costumes and do my makeup every night. On any given night you can find me roaming around the woods dressed as a cowboy clown, a dead showgirl, or a grimy carny in the carnival!”
Nick Moczulski (Nick): “I have been performing as an actor for 4 years; my character name is Pyro!”
Anya Burgerhoff (Anya): “I’ve been working at Reaper’s Revenge for four years. I started out as a part-timer working in the hayride, filling in as needed. The next year, I was sent to Sector 13 for a few days, but then sent back to the Haunted Hayride, and then eventually I was worked into the Lost Carnival, where I made my home. I’ve been playing a clown named “Yaya” ever since. This season, I became a breaker for the Lost Carnival!”
Deanna Spak (Deanna): “I have been working at Reaper’s Revenge for the past 6 seasons (or so I’m told– I had to ask someone!) I began as a mutant (one of my favorite roles), before moving on to a bubbly/abrasive clown character named “Piper”. Currently, I’m a “Breaker”, where I’m tasked with learning the lines and roles of every character so that I can give each actor a break throughout the night. It’s a lot more intense than the other roles, but I love that I don’t get bored and I get to know and help everyone in the Lost Carnival. They’ve become like a family.”
RR Blog: What inspired you to work at Reaper’s Revenge?
Jen: “Well it all started with a thunderstorm- Kelley Michael and I were attending an event at a park in Honesdale when the deluge came, he said ‘hey! I have an old friend who runs a restaurant in town lets get lunch!” When we arrived, Paul Kotran (owner of Reaper’s Revenge and President) greeted us with a ‘hey! check out my new project! want to help?” we started that day by painting tombstones upstairs at Paulie’s Hotdogs ..and the rest is history. What inspired me to stick with it? The crazy(unique) people who have come to be family, the love of the entertainment industry, and the thrill!”
Kelley: “The ability to keep creating and continue being challenged is what keeps me inspires my work and creative ability to generate new and exciting concepts at Reaper’s Revenge!”
Alicia: “Nine years ago, I moved to Scott Township with my family. My mom convinced me one night to go to Reaper’ Revenge with her since we passed signs for it all the time. She was terrified, and I had a blast, but we were both too afraid to go into “Pitch Black(attraction).” While waiting in line we ran into a woman my mom knew from high school. They spent some time catching up, and my mother mentioned that I needed a job is that I was finally 16, and jokingly said that she could call me if they needed any help at the haunt. The next day I got a call and worked my first night at Reapers Revenge and never looked back.”
Nick: “I was inspired to work at Reaper’s Revenge by scaring people as well as meeting new people!”
Anya: “I was inspired to work at Reaper’s Revenge by my mom. My mom worked here, and they were understaffed one night, so she brought my sister and me up. I’ve always had a love for acting, and when my mom brought me up, I completely fell in love.”
Deanna: “Honestly, when the opportunity came, I was at a shallow point in my life. A friend presented the job, and I consented on a whim, hoping it would create any kind of change in my life, or even just act as a distraction. It did, and I never regretted it. At the time, I had no idea what the job entailed, but I always loved performing and had a pension for scaring and pranking, so it seemed like a good match. (One time, I hid inside of a couch, so when my roommate came home and sat down, I engulfed her, yelling, “LIVING COUCH!!!” She did NOT find that amusing… this job probably gets a lot of those tendencies out of my system, leaving safer roommates!”
RR Blog: How do you approach acting and interacting with customers?
Jen: “I take every customer as a one on one interaction- sizing them up to find out what scare works best – whether a quick startle or the long creep out factor, I love to improv!”
Kelley: “GET COMFORTABLE BEING UNCOMFORTABLE- knowing what it takes from both sides of the coin -building the scenes out and acting in them gives me a different view than most – because I create the scenes from the ground up I am able to dream the characters from the ground up too. Lots of improvisation and “on the fly” method acting creates magic in performance art (scare-acting)”
Alicia: “The cool thing about working in the Lost Carnival is being able to provide customers with a completely immersive experience of being at an old-timey carnival that’s been sitting there to rot for years with the carney’s left to haunt it. Within the carnival, you’ll find hoards of game joint Carneys, showgirls, freak show members, and of course—clowns. The thing I love the most about these characters is that they all have the ability to speak with guests. That’s a type of interaction that you don’t have as a zombie or a mutant. I’m huge on improv. Being able to come up with a quick-witted response on the spot is something I practice and preach.”
Nick: “I have mastered startle or jump scares. I usually jump from a higher area that I am standing on, and many times, customers think I am simply a prop, which freaks them out.”
Anya: “My approach towards acting and interacting with customers is to let them see what I would want to see. Of course, I try to get a scare when I can, but if I’m not able to get scares, then I try to entertain guests, and improv with them as much as possible.”
Deanna: “Because the job is to scare people without genuinely hurting or upsetting them in a lasting way, I find it essential to be able to read people and adapt accordingly. I usually try to gauge an approaching group before I even speak. I enjoy working with the customers and making them a part of the act, if possible. If the group isn’t scared, the next most crucial thing is to entertain. If my group isn’t leaving screaming and running, I, at least, make sure they leave laughing and smiling. It’s essential to be adaptable and functional at improv so that you can play off of the personalities and unpredictability of any customer to give each the best performance possible. I usually marathon series and movies where characters have the piety traits I’m trying to portray, to better get into character and come up with more ideas. Honestly, once I get into full character mode, I barely know what’s going to come out of my mouth!”
RR Blog: What is the most challenging aspect of performing at Reaper’s Revenge?
Jen: “I would have to say staffing and the weather our two of our top challenges to overcome.”
Kelley: “Trying to remain original, trying to keep a sense of childlike wonderment and imagination as we grow older. Remaining relevant and pushing things forward in the industry and maintain our status as a leader!”
Alicia: “The most challenging part of working at Reaper’s Revenge is maintaining high energy throughout the night. Every customer deserves the same show, regardless if they come at the very beginning of the night or the very end. I spend a lot of time going through my attraction, pumping up my actors to keep them motivated during those long nights.”
Nick: “The most challenging thing for me is that pacing yourself and not getting tired so quickly each performance.”
Anya: “I think the most challenging aspect is dealing with sickness and taking care of your body. We work 3 days, which really doesn’t sound like a lot, but 3 nights, along with everything else in our workers’ schedules, can tally up to be a lot. Most of us end up getting sick, but continue to push ourselves for the life of scaring people, and acting.”
Deanna: There are obvious answers to the weather, adaptability, and physical endurance involved in a relatively demanding job, but, for me, the most challenging aspect is actually getting there. With everything going on in my personal life, keeping up with and getting there, along with actually affording the gas for a daily hour-long drive (sometimes at 4 am), has become a daunting task. Thankfully, thus far, the enjoyment has largely outweighed the cost and effort put in, but if that ever changed, I don’t know if I could continue.”
RR Blog: What is the most rewarding aspect of performing at Reaper’s Revenge?
Jen: “The smiles ( yes, the smiles!) on customer and each employee faces once they have completed the show. Everyone needs an escape from everyday life, and I think we provide the perfect opportunity to forget about the daily grind and just be in the moment.”
Kelley: “The go-to answer would be scaring people because that is the payoff. However, the real reward is working with shy, maybe socially awkward, or people who feel like they are outcasts and turning them around to be our top award-winning actors and being able to become outgoing and speak to people in the public forum. Growing with THEM is my reward!”
Alicia: “There’s something special about scaring someone. I mean really scaring someone. It’s hard to describe. There’s some sort of exchange of energy that happens when you honestly and genuinely scare the crap out of someone, and that’s my favorite part. That energy fuels you for hours. And the beautiful thing about being a clown when it happens is that it’s totally in character to laugh! Other than that the big reward is in the people I’ve met. I have a whole other family to come home to every year from this place. I’ve made life long friends and have lifetimes worth of memories over the years.”
Nick: “The most rewarding aspect is getting a good scare, regardless of the age, size or background of each customer.”
Anya: “The most rewarding aspect is definitely knowing that everyone worked hard, and looking through the reviews, and seeing that all of the hard work paid off.”
Deanna: “For me, the most rewarding aspect is when customers walk away smiling and laughing or crying and screaming (either way I’m happy!) It’s also pretty great when I get to hear that I’m doing a good job or was really helpful from the other talented actors or creative minds that I respect. Now that I get to do a bit of actor-training, I love when I come up with a great line or quip for someone to use, they try it, and it ends up working exactly as I intended! Then, I get to see my creativity come to life elsewhere, and both the actor and I are excited about it! It’s also a good outlet for my overabundance of energy and helps me stay in shape!”
RR Blog: What is your favorite scary movie and horror character?
Jen: “My favorite horror movie would be anything Hitchcock. What scared me the most as a child? Freddy Krueger and Silver Bullet (we need a werewolf revival!). My favorite character is Rhonda from Trick r Treat”
Kelley: “Pretty Woman…..and anything from George Romero. Classics such as Universal’s Frankenstein.”
Alicia: “My favorite horror movie would probably be Rob Zombie’s House of 1000 Corpses, and my favorite character would be a toss-up between Captain Spaulding or Baby Firefly.”
Nick: “My favorite scary movie is Freddy vs Jason and my favorite horror character is Jason Voorhees.”
Anya: “I’ve never been huge on horror movies because I get scared easily, but I think Pet Cemetery was really cool. It was really creepy. And I think my favorite horror character has got to be Jason.”
Deanna: “My favorite scary movies are Battle Royale and The Crow.”
RR Blog: Thank you all for your time and dedication towards this one of a kind attraction! It is impossible not to be impressed by the surreal yet realistic insanity spawned by the “Lost Carnival.”
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