Beloit, WI--No one was sure if a soul would show up for the first-ever Halloween celebration at the Castle @ 501 Prospect in Beloit. Not even the spirits of “Presbyterians Past” that surely reside in the venerable edifice could be sure that there would be a useful turnout of haunt-able humans on such a windy, chilly and thoroughly morbid autumn evening.
But when the Witching Hour began at 7PM, ghouls, goblins, fiends, phantoms, witches, warlocks…and one gigantic ballerina…stormed the Castle for an unforgettable night of tricks, treats, music, “eats” and a whole lot more, making the inaugural boogieman ball a scaaaaaary success!!
The host for the evening was the ghost-with-the-most…Beetlejuice himself! The star of the eponymous classic film was both intimidating and congenial as he made young girls run for their mothers and young boys raise their hands for high fives.
The lower level of the Castle was transformed into a demonic disco, a spook house called the Hellway, and a cozy theater featuring recurring screenings of the Boris Karloff classic, Frankenstein. Miss Andrea’s dance troupe helped out with the choreography that accompanied a presentation of Michael Jackson’s Thriller, and a costume contest featured an astounding array of stunning outfits, the winner of which was a gigantic Minion, modeled after those in the Disney film Despicable Me 2, that towered over the crowd of otherwise diminutive Halloweeners.
Food and beverages satisfied the hungry audience as the Castle kitchen, under the direction the Head Witch, dished up a tasty menu drawn from her boiling dungeon cauldrons; culinary delights so delicious and healthy that they could stop the growling of a mummy's tummy!
The highlight event of the evening occurred in the Castle Sanctuary where guests were greeted by spine chilling sound effects as they found their seats in the authentically appointed great hall. The show began with the comical, animated and irascible Beetlejuice introducing the first act: Max Yount performing on the massive Henry Pilcher and Sons multi-manual pipe organ. His deft rendering of Bach’s Toccata in D Minor and Strauss’s Also Sprach Zarathustra created the perfect mood and elicited a thunderous ovation upon completion.
The next portion of the show saw Dr. Robert Tomaro (Rock River Philharmonic conductor, jazz and rock guitarist, Grammy nominee and master thespian) take to the lectern for a captivating reading of the Edgar Allen Poe Halloween mainstay, "The Raven". Accompanied by Beetlejuice on the piano, Max on the organ, and with members of the Castle Players providing vocal effects, Maestro Tomaro took the audience to another crescendo with his masterful
reading of the hypnotic tale, replete with stuffed black bird as his pulpit companion.
The program continued with horror film quote trivia, as the remarkable Castle Players troupe took to the stage to perform the Banana Boat Song scene from the Beetlejuice motion picture, which included a marvelous dance sequence created by the Players’ choreographer, Cody Steele. Uproarious and breathtaking classic horror film scenes were brought to life by the wildly talented ensemble. From the familiar strains of “It’s Alive!!!” to the chilling revisit of “They’re here!” the group thrilled the audience with spot on, and in most cases hilarious, renditions that resulted in the audience shouting correct title guesses that filled the hall with an atmosphere of complete satisfaction for all in attendance. The program ended with a sing-a-long to Ghostbusters during which the audience was encouraged to dance in the aisles with the cast.
Kudos to the staff and management of the Castle @ 501 Prospect in Beloit, WI for another event impeccably executed. Oddly enough, the only typical Halloween exclamation that this reporter found to be conspicuously unspoken throughout the entire affair was “Boo!”
(Fright Fest was sponsored by The Youth Unite, Visit Beloit, The Beloit International Film Festival, Lost Children Productions, and supported by a host of generous friends of the Castle who donated time, services and supplies to make this event possible. For this the staff and management say “Thanks!!”)