This year’s Light City Festival will be a bit spookier than normal, and not just because of the schedule change.
The Nevermore Haunt in Old Town Mall is opening for two weekends, April 13-14 and 20-21, a half-year ahead of Halloween season, as one of Light City’s “fringe events.”
This won’t just be a re-run of the Halloween-season production, according to owner Joe Hudson.
“We’ll still have our popular haunted house show from October,” he said, “but our front of house experience will be quite different.”
The most noticeable change will be a 20-foot-tall puppet (seen above) planted out front, on loan from the Baltimore Rock Opera Society. That would be Mother Nog, a cycloptic, many-toothed alien monster last seen in the finale of BROS’ fall 2017 production “The Terrible Secret of Lunastus.”
A number of BROS members work as actors and makeup artists at the Nevermore Haunt, Hudson said, and a portion of all beer sales this April will go to the rock opera collective. (Evolution Craft brews will be on tap.) BROS members will also be there for at least one night of both weekends, according to artistic director Aran Keating.
Hudson initially approached BROS with “a vision for some sort of puppetry” for the Light City haunted house, Keating told Baltimore Fishbowl Thursday afternoon, so they took a walk through the group’s headquarters to see what was available. Scanning an array of puppets of shows gone by, including the Rat King from “RATS!,” part of the troupe’s 2015 “Six-Pack,” and a giant Tyrannosaurus rex playing the saxophone from “Chronoshred” in 2016, they ultimately settled on Mother Nog.
“He liked the idea of it,” Keating said. “It just sort of matched the horror theme.”
As for the event-related tie-in—the lights—the haunted house, by nature, needs to be dark. However, “a lot of the front-of-house actors will be incorporating lights into their acts,” and the attraction is still considering other ways to incorporate the festival’s main theme into its scenes, Hudson said.
While The Nevermore Haunt typically runs shuttles to and from Fells Point for Halloween, this spring they’ll pick guests up every 15 to 20 minutes at the Inner Harbor visitor’s center on Light Street.
Tickets cost $20, and the attraction remains open rain or shine.
Light City spectators who don’t make their way up to Old Town from the harbor may still get a taste of the experience. Hudson said some of The Nevermore Haunt’s cast will be strolling through the 21-installation light walk dotting the Inner Harbor, dressed in their characteristic turn-of-the-century garb, but “with a light spin on it.”
Light City 2018 will be spread out over three weeks, from April 6-21. The Neighborhood Lights portion runs April 6-8, the festival itself April 14-21, and the Labs portion from April 18-21.