Students at Van Alstyne High School debuted their Haunted Asylum attraction on Oct. 24 and Oct. 25 in order to raise money for the emerging VAHS Theater Department. The production was designed and held in the VAHS Theater, a process planned entirely by the 22 students in the Theater Department, which is in its inaugural year of creation.

VAHS and VAMS Theater Director Jeremy Stein said the attraction was a “great success on all accounts,” with more than 400 people showing up to experience the event. He said that the $1,300 raised will be going towards the theater’s production budget. This will allow the department to purchase supplies needed to construct sets, costumes, and props for future shows.

Formal construction of the event began on Oct. 3, with students working daily during class time in order to transform the theater into a spooky exhibit populated by a mad scientist, crazed nurses, insane patients, failed experiments and a surfeit of spiders. The first half of the show was designed to be brighter and less frightening in order to encourage younger community members to attend.

The idea for the event emerged when Stein, who is currently serving his first year as VAHS theater director, proposed the idea of a haunted house to his students. Under his direction, the students developed the idea for the Asylum in September. They then auditioned to be placed into one of four main production groups that curated each aspect of the show.

Theater President and VAHS senior Mackenzie Reid served on the character creation and management production groups, in addition to playing the role of an insane nurse.

“It was a real treat to see the horror on our customer’s faces,” she said. “… (I think) an annual Asylum would be a hit.”

The department anticipates making the Asylum a sustainable event, permitting the fluctuating student body to allow the production to run under a novel name and theme each year. Stein noted that the success of the event has drawn excitement from students, including eighth graders, who wish to participate in the future.

Overall, the asylum attraction succeeded in its goal of generating buzz for the newly created Theater Department. Stein emphasized the involvement of the theater students, praising them for leaving a mark on their community through pioneering the development of the department.

“I had been hoping for the reboot of our department for all of my VAHS career,” Reid said. “So seeing it become a reality is astounding.”

Any donations to the department’s production budget can be made to the VAHS Theater Department. Those with the Theater Department said they would like to to eventually raise enough money to perform shows outside of the school in order to augment community involvement. The department also aims to raise enough money to fund student trips to professional theater productions in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.