Boulder High theater students are transforming the school’s stage into the scene of a nuclear apocalypse, with radiation zombies, science experiments gone wrong and hidden scares.

The school’s annual haunted house, now in its 13th year, opens Friday. On Friday only, from 6 to 7 p.m., younger children and those who don’t like to be scared can go through the the house with the lights on.

“You can meet the actors, see the makeup and just look at how cool it is,” said senior Lucy Braymiller, one of haunted house three directors. “It’s a really good time for people who don’t like scary things to come.”

The haunted house is the theater department’s major fundraiser, helping to keep the program self-sustaining.

“It’s super fun, but it’s also really important to all of us,” Braymiller said. “It helps us keep up the high level of the productions we put on. It’s all done by students. We put so much hard work into this.”

Braymiller is joined by seniors Clara Hunter and Marcus Schaller as this year’s haunted house directors. Together, they came up with the idea for a radiation apocalypse, combining zombies and World War I.

To add a twist, they designed mirror image rooms, with the first half of the haunted house showing what happens when a nuclear bomb hits to nature and people. The second half shows the effect of the radiation years later on the same scenes.

“It’s a story as you progress through the rooms,” Braymiller  said. “We tried to make it as symmetrical as we could, the paint, the walls, the make up, the costumes.”

Along with a storyline, Schaller said, the house includes the more traditional haunted house jump scares. His favorite part is a multi-room lab, with patients who become “more insane” in each room.

“It’s been a blast,” he said. “I love creating things. It’s so amazing to see it actually come up around us and happen. I’m really proud of it.”

Along with the three directors, about 100 students are designing, building and bringing the haunted house to life. Students build as much of the set as they can to keep costs down, as well as handling sound, costumes, lights and makeup.

One of the head makeup artists, senior Lainey Cave, said this year’s production had some fun challenges, including creating prosthetic masks for characters that needed to look like science experiments gone wrong.

“I really love the art of optical illusions and morphing people into things that aren’t in nature,” she said.

Students promise an experience that’s on par with for-profit haunted houses in the area. The house is set up on the stage and in the “bowels” of the theater, with customers led through rooms and a tunnel in small groups.

Students said the sheer scale of the production, plus all the technical work, means lots of opportunities to get involved.

Freshman Noah Clayton, whose part in the haunted house is as a “blood scare,” went through last year’s version as a middle schooler. This also is his first time participating in theater.

“Last year, it was scary, and I thought it was really cool,” he said. “I’m in it this year for the thrill of it.”

Junior Akasha Brahmbhatt, playing a researcher in the lab, had her first acting experience in last year’s haunted house, finding out that “I really do like to act.” After the haunted house, she performed in the school musical.

“It’s just really fun,” she said. “It’s amazing that students put this whole thing on. It has so many different elements.”

Senior Sophie Rubin joined the haunted house crew her sophomore year and now heads up sound.

“It’s a passion of mine,” she said. “I love to mix sounds together.”

The best part of working on a haunted house, she added, is “you just never know what’s going to happen.”

“That’s the joy,” she said. “When something doesn’t work, you have to think on your feet. You can problem solve.”

If you go

What: Boulder High School haunted house
When: 7 to 10 p.m. Friday, Saturday, Oct. 25, Oct. 26 and Oct. 31; lights on tours from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. Friday
Where: Boulder High Theater, 1604 Arapahoe Ave., Boulder
Cost: $8 for students, $12 for adults; buy tickets at the door

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