Don’t Just Halloween—Apolloween!
The historic Apollo Civic Theatre in Martinsburg makes a whole spooky month of it.
A menacing grin to chill your blood, a wail creepier than your childhood nightmares—set actors loose in their own “extremely haunted” hundred-year-old theater and they’ll create the most hair-raising Halloween around. “This is not your regular haunted house,” says Jenifer Roberts, who not only directs Apolloween at Martinsburg’s Apollo Civic Theatre but has had her own eerie experiences there. “We use the whole theater, with children performing skits in each area based
on horror movie themes.”
The 1914 Apollo Theatre served as a social and cultural hub for the Eastern Panhandle, hosting traveling Vaudeville shows and, upstairs, dances and graduation parties. As Vaudeville declined the theater became mainly a moviehouse and, over the decades, fell into disrepair. Before it was too far gone, though, the community rallied. Live performance returned to the stage in 1973, and the building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It has since served as a set for historical films and hosts everything from weddings to political debates to live music. Its community theater group presents six live productions each year.
But it takes a six-figure budget to run a century-old venue, and the Haunted Theatre fundraiser of the 1980s has grown into a monthlong celebration of the macabre. With thousands of thrill-seekers attending each year, Apolloween brings in nearly 10 percent of the theater’s revenue.
Apolloween’s exuberance goes far beyond the Haunted Theatre. If spooky skits in dark dressing rooms aren’t your style, try a shadowcast showing of the campy Rocky Horror Picture Show—just $3 for an audience participation kit. “It’s always fun when we end the performance and people walk out onto the street in their costumes,” Jenifer says. Prefer ghost hunting? “Paranormal groups come all the time, but during Apolloween, we take groups up to 25 people from midnight to about 4 a.m. through the building with the lights off and they try to detect paranormal activity with cameras and audio recorders.”
Or join the dancing dead at this year’s first-ever Zombie Prom. “People will come dressed as zombies and we’ll have a live DJ, and there’ll be prizes awarded for costumes and various things,” Jenifer says.
For tickets and information, apolloween.com