TRR photo by Ian Pugh

The Rivoli Theatre marquee advertises its annual Haunted Theatre at 5243 Main Street in South Fallsburg.

Scary fun in South Fallsburg

The Rivoli Theatre turns Haunted

SOUTH FALLSBURG, NY — On Friday the 13th, Sullivan County Dramatic Workshop opened its third annual Haunted Theatre event at the Rivoli—a maze of masks, costumes and creepy backdrops in the haunted house tradition, spread out across 20 rooms and three floors, each designed to provide a unique fright for the Halloween season.

“We have an awful lot of fright going on,” says Dawn Perneszi, the director of the Haunted Theatre, who was adamant that we not reveal any of the scary sights contained therein. “We have some things I don’t think anybody’s ever seen... I don’t want to give it out, because I want you to come and visit. We have a cast and crew of about 45, 50 people… We have characters that you might recognize, and then we have some you’ve never met. We have areas that are very chilly, and some that get quite warm. And that’s about it! I don’t want to give too much away.”

The tour is “not recommended” for kids under 13, but that warning is more of a guideline to let kids know what they’re in for. “My concern is, I do not want to give any child under 13 nightmares,” says Perneszi. “So it’s really at the parents’ discretion. We’ve had people come in and say, ‘No, my 10-year-old can handle it,’ and they were able to. We do have blood, we do have very creepy things, there’s some very dark spaces, some very tight spaces. In those spaces, people tend to use very colorful language. These are things we are not promoting for your child. If someone says it’s OK, then they are more than welcome to come in….

“Safety is of utmost importance—we do safety checks continuously through the night, before we start and during. The stairs are no-scare zones, because the stairs are old and we don’t want anyone getting hurt.” Technical concerns, however, are just as much about providing a more intimate scare experience for the theatre’s patrons. “We bring you in only about three at a time, and what that does for you—and for us—is you will  never see someone else’s scare. And that ruins it for a lot of people who really like to scare themselves. So if I’m behind you and I’m seeing all your scares pop out at you, there’s nothing left for me. By keeping you guys spaced, it doesn’t ruin it for anybody. Small groups are also scarier; you can’t hide behind people. Even though you have three people, someone thinks they’re safe in the middle—you’re not. Plus if we have anything we have to stop for, if someone’s running a little behind or going too fast, it helps regulate the flow.”

The Rivoli, at 5243 Main St. in South Fallsburg, continues the Haunted Theatre run on Fridays and Saturdays until Halloween—October 20, 21, 27 and 28—with consecutive tours beginning at 6 p.m. and the last of the night tours beginning at 10 p.m. Tickets cost $10. For more information, visit or call 845/436-5336.


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