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The show must go on

For EDSS drama teacher DJ Carroll, it’s just not Halloween without some kind of show featuring his students and acting friends. Over the years, he’s become known for festivities marking All Hallows’ Eve, and even the coronavirus pandemic wasn’t going to dampen his enthusiasm.

“I have a tradition of doing big Halloween stuff – love it. I’ve been doing it for, oh my gosh, like 25 years – I love Halloween. And every year either I’ve done a haunted house in the garage or changed my yard or neighbours’ yards into a haunted experience for kids,” said Carroll.

While that kind of event wasn’t in the cards, he’s come up with a new approach for a show that will take place on the driveway of his Elmira home on October 31. Drawing on the movies, he’s developed a show that will see classic movie characters jump off the screen and into the altered world that is Halloween night.

Over the last couple of years, things have shifted for Carroll as he and his volunteers have started creating interactive experiences for the kids. This year’s show shifts gears somewhat.

“We’ve done sort of an interactive thing where the kids have had to save the neighborhood from the aliens or the zombies, and the kids have had to interact with actors and performers,” he said, noting that this year required change of another kind.

Due to the COVID-19 situation, Carroll had to reassess how he could mark Halloween, opting to put on a play that could follow public health guidelines and provide his friends and students with a chance to act once again.

“I started thinking, ‘well, I’ve got some students I want to help. I’ve got some friends I want to help. And we want to put on an actual mini-show.’ I went through all the COVID protocols, and I was like, ‘OK, how do we pull this off?” he explained.

Some of the ways he met the COVID-19 criteria included casting a group of siblings to help out and spreading out actors across the driveway to ensure physical distancing can be kept. In addition to the measures put in place to protect the performers, families attending the event will be placed in different bubbles across the driveway to ensure social distancing is maintained. Multiple play showings are going on throughout the night, starting with an early dress rehearsal at 5:30 p.m. aimed at younger children and their families. Performances will run every half-hour, with the closing show at 8 p.m.

The play’s inspiration comes from Carroll’s love of ACME Labs, known from cartoons such as Bugs Bunny, The Animaniacs, and Pinky and the Brain.

“ACME Labs is launching a new experiment. It’s called the CinemaTron 3000, I suppose to bring a better experience for movies and TV. But there’s going to be an accident and characters are going to come out of the movies and TV show and interact with people here,” Carroll said of the experience in store for those taking in the show.

The likes of ghosts from Ghostbusters and pirates from Pirates of the Caribbean can be expected, and if you are lucky, there may be a Star Wars tribute, says Carroll. The play is short, running around 10 minutes in length, which should help keep traffic moving throughout the night.

Carroll says if more people show up than his driveway can safely distance, they will be asked to watch from across the street or catch one of the other showings. All performances take place out front of his home at 14 Limera Ave. no matter what the weather.

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