Spooked at The Strand

With Halloween’s ghosts and ghouls just around the corner, A.C.T. is getting ready for Spooked at The Strand, its fabulous, fundraising, costume party in aid of M.F.A. Program scholarships. As A.C.T.’s costume shop swings into action to outfit Spooked attendees and student actors alike with show-stopping outfits, we snuck behind the scenes to talk with Conservatory Director Melissa Smith and find out what surprises guests have in store throughout the evening.

What inspired A.C.T. to start this fantastic charity event?

In the spring of 2015, the M.F.A. Board of Directors was looking for a new take on our annual fundraiser for the M.F.A. Program. Previously, we had held formal, sit-down luncheons. In a Board Meeting discussion, members talked about how inspiring the new Strand space is and how crucial it would be to the M.F.A. Program. We talked about the desire to attract new people to the M.F.A. Program, how to get the word out about this top-ranked actor training program, and how to have an event that reflected the energy of the program itself. We knew our event would be in October and we knew the Strand was the place to do it and as I recall a board member then said, “What about a Halloween party?” And we all got excited at once!

What sets Spooked apart from A.C.T.’s other events and performances?

The event itself is a really great costume party, often featuring costumes from A.C.T.’s extensive collection—and with so many people transformed by clothing, masks, and makeup, you might not recognize a friend or colleague, which adds to the high energy of the event! Spooked features M.F.A. actors in performance—both a formal performance and in surprise pop-ups—and the proceeds go only to the M.F.A. It’s a really fun evening and because people are not seated at tables but partying together, it’s a chance for guests, donors, M.F.A. actors, and faculty to all meet one another.

Spooked at The Strand 2015. Photo by Drew Altizer Photography.
Who selects the songs and acts that the students perform?

The show’s director, Domenique Lozano, and I invite all students in the program to audition with material early in September. We view all that material, as well as considering material that has been performed in the past year, and then discuss our options. The final selection is something we both sign off on.

Can you tell us a little more about The Strand itself?

The Strand was formerly a film theater and in its heyday in the mid 20th century was a Market Street destination. Today, with the award-winning restoration by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, The Strand is once again a destination perfect for special events and parties like Spooked.

“Spooked is a fantastic opportunity for the M.F.A. students to get to interact with the donors. We learn about their lives, where they come from, and why they support A.C.T. It is an opportunity to create a bridge between the program and those who help our program thrive.”—Peter Fanone, A.C.T. M.F.A. Student

“Spooked has a real sense of wonder, energy, and excitement. The pop-up performances during the cocktails come as a big surprise and keep guests on their toes. You never know when the costumed person next to you might turn out to be an M.F.A. actor who breaks into song or performance.”—Holly & Chris Hollenbeck, Co-Chairs

“Spooked is the best costume party I’ve ever been to! The costume shop designed my Ice Queen costume and it blew me away. Spooked is not only a fundraiser, but a moment for our community to come together and just have fun!”—Diana Gonzalez-Morett, A.C.T. M.F.A. Student

For more information and ticketing, please visit the Spooked page on our website.

If you’re interested in renting costumes from A.C.T.’s costume shop, visit their rental page.

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