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The Battalion

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The Battalion

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Fright Nights with StageCenter

Fright+Night
Photo courtesy of Gina Marie/Cindy Roberts
Fright Night

When spirits become restless and join the living for a night of frights and fun, at least that fear is going toward a good cause.
Fright Nights is an annual event held by nonprofit theater StageCenter where participants can walk through a haunted house and have proceeds donated to charities. This year, Fright Nights is donating to StarKids, an outdoor program to help kids of fallen veterans and first responders. It is recommended that children under the age of 15 do not attend without an adult present. Tickets can be purchased at the event from 7:30-11:30 p.m. for $10, and participants are encouraged to pay in cash due to Wi-Fi being unpredictable.
Cindy Roberts, organizer of Fright Nights and past president of StageCenter, said she’s seen the event grow in size.
“We started 12 years ago in the basement of the LaSalle Hotel,” Roberts said. “We just had to move out of Downtown Bryan, so now we’re over on Briarcrest Drive.”
Roberts said she buys all props and costume pieces herself so they can donate as much as possible to local charities.
“We don’t take any money from the proceeds other than to pay bills, and so I buy new costumes every year and new props,” Roberts said. “The proceeds are split between StageCenter Community Theater and Trinity Oaks’ program StarKids.”
To ensure the safety of everyone involved in Fright Nights, actors stay an arm’s length away at all times and don’t get up close to anyone’s faces.
“We have always been a non-touch house, so my monsters do not touch you and you do not touch them,” Roberts said.
Although scare actors are recommended to be over 18 years old to participate, anyone 16 and up with parents’ permission is also allowed, Roberts said.
“This is strictly volunteer, so that’s why we like to work with college kids or kids that need community service through their high school,” Robert said.
Sophia Colwell has been a scare actor at Fright Nights for two years and said she enjoys the community that comes together for the haunted house.
“The people that come through have a great time,” Colwell said. “Everyone helps everyone do their makeup, pick an outfit and figure out where they’re going to be. It’s a really positive experience.”
The Fright Nights building was previously a daycare and Colwell said they’ve noticed paranormal activity outside of the haunted house.
“There’s this one wall that has an embossed tree and little fence on it. And last weekend, we noticed little kid hand prints on it and a dried dark substance,” Colwell said. “ It looked like dried blood.”
Colwell said most people run away from the monsters while others have different reactions to getting scared, such as flirting with the scare actors.
“It’s really funny when they get so scared that they start flirting with you to try and offset and throw you off,” Colwell said. “It does work, but it’s also like, ‘Whoa! I’m doing my job, and I’m also a minor, so calm down.’”
Bringing a larger group of people is more fun for the scare actors, Colwell said, and each Fright Night experience is unique.
“It is so much fun, and you are supporting three great causes,” Colwell said. “Even if you don’t come to support, just come to have fun.”
Alex Lawson attended Fright Nights a week ago and said he enjoyed going with his group of friends.
“There are people around every corner, and monsters jump out at you,” Lawson said. “It really is kind of freaky.”
One of the most impressive parts of the haunted house, without spoiling too much, are the scenes that participants walk through, Lawson said.
“They create individual environments you have to pass through, each time you go to different regions,” Lawson said. “Just the scenes themselves are terrifying.”
Overall, Lawson said he was happy to support a local group and give back to the community in the process.
“It’s all community theater, so it’s helping out groups with their acting skills and whatever else they might want to do,” Lawson said.

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