Stage Fright – Full Review

Stage Fright is a Haunted Attraction located in Leesburg, FL.

311 N 13th Street, Leesburg, FL 34748
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Free Parking, Restrooms/Porta Potties On-Site, Food/Concessions, You will NOT be touched, Original Characters, Indoor/Outdoor Waiting Line, All-Indoor Attraction, Family Friendly

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This attraction was reviewed on October 13, 2022 by Team Floridead.

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Final Score: 8.36

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Have you ever entered a theatre and thought, “This would make a fantastic location to hold a haunted house?” Well, Stage Fright has turned this question into a reality each October, and the results are stunning. Located at Melon Patch Theatre in Leesburg, FL, Stage Fright is back for 2022 and is larger than ever! This year’s theme, Manor of Madness, tells the story of Greta and Grundy Harris, their two children, and the butler and maid. The entire family lived in a Manor that burnt down 200 years ago after Greta, Grundy, and the children were gruesomely murdered. Now, on the 200th anniversary of the tragedy, their spirits still roam the area and the graveyard out back, and we’re the unlucky guests who decide to go explore the remnants of what remains.

Team Floridead interviewed the creators of Stage Fright in early September to learn about what it takes to put on a haunt in a working theatre and how Stage Fright began in the first place. The haunt first opened in 2017 on the 2nd floor of the Opera House in downtown Leesburg. Unfortunately, in 2020, the Opera House was no longer being rented and Stage Fright was forced to come up with a plan B. The haunt took a hiatus in 2020 and reopened down the street at the Melon Patch Theatre in 2021 to a crowd of 1000 guests over the course of two weeks.

As you can imagine, building a haunt in a theatre has several advantages. Lights, sound, and flats are already inside the theatre and the flats are continuously repurposed and used in the next show the following month. An added bonus is the crossover of actors who act on the mainstage throughout the year and then in the haunt for October. Considering the success of the haunt, Stage Fright is now a part of Melon Patch Theatre’s 2022/2023 season.

Even though Leesburg is a solid 50-60 minutes from Orlando, it is more than worth the trek to experience the horrors residing on stage at Stage Fright this year. Plus, you’ll feel good knowing the proceeds from your tickets go towards supporting the arts community in Leesburg.

Cast Score: 8.4

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Cast Review:

There was no shortage of actors throughout Manor of Madness, and we didn’t realize just how large the cast was until we got to meet them after our walkthrough. Since the cast consists of actors from Melon Patch’s mainstage as well as actors with experience from surrounding haunts, they aren’t afraid to bring the scare factor and immerse guests in the storyline of the haunt. What creeped us out the most was that everyone knew our name as we traversed the halls of the Manor. Each character in the haunt served a purpose, asked us questions or commented on the horrors of the past, and found creative ways to keep propelling us further into the haunt.

We need to give a special shoutout to the actor who was waiting for us when we pulled into Melon Patch Theatre. The character was standing on the sidewalk, hook in hand, and wrapped in bloody burlap. As we parked, the actor walked up to the car and continued to follow us while we waited to head inside the theatre. They stood silent, foreboding, and kickstarted our night off on the right foot. We found out later in the evening that the police were called to the theatre because the actor was doing an effective job of scaring cars passing by. That deserves an extra round of applause!

Costuming Score: 7.65

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Costuming Review:

Being a theatre, Stage Fright has a plethora of costumes to choose from. Costumes for Manor of Madness ranged from Victorian-style era garb to hooded figures with solid white masks. While the costumes worked, we’d like to see more consistently themed costumes throughout the entire haunt, such as everyone dressed in the same period if that is what the story calls for. There was some effective makeup, specifically the actress next to the crystal ball who had blood-stained teeth and ritualistic symbols over her face and arms. Further in the house, there was an actress with finger extenders, glossed-out eyes, and pale makeup which glowed under a black light and was a highlight of the evening.

Customer Service Score: 9.6

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Customer Service Review:

The customer service at Stage Fright was top-notch. We were warmly greeted by the Executive Director upon our arrival and escorted into the haunt. When we completed our first walkthrough, we were offered the chance to head back through a second time. Following our second walkthrough, we were given a lights-on tour of the haunt to see how the magic all comes together. We promised to keep the behind-the-scenes details a secret but we can say the amount of love, care, and dedication that is poured into Manor of Madness can be felt from the stage floor up to the stage lights. We ended our evening back in the parlor where we began and met the cast, which included Melon Patch’s Board President. The synergy is palpable and it brought a happy tear to our eye to see the theatre fully embrace the haunted layover.

Safety is a huge priority for the team at Stage Fright. Rooms that have jump scares or special effects that the creators think might send guests running have reinforced walls to ensure nothing comes tumbling down. Parking on-site is free and ample, and the website is easy enough to navigate. It would be helpful to add details about the free parking or travel directions to the website for guests who are not familiar with the area. As a bonus, the site does have photos from past seasons of Stage Fright so you can visibly see the evolution of the attraction.

Immersion Score: 8.17

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Immersion Review:

Manor of Madness is very story-driven, and that’s what really makes it stand out. We won’t give away too much, but the first room of the haunt provides a wonderful setup for what’s ahead. We were greeted by one of the butlers of the manor and introduced to the lady of the house, who appeared as an apparition above the fireplace. What followed was a walk through the various rooms of the Manor and, for the grand finale, a trip through the graveyard behind the house.

Considering the theatre is not that large, and a majority of the haunt occurs on stage, we never felt like we knew where we were, and it gave the Manor a neverending feeling. The actors never once broke character and a majority of the theming felt appropriate for the storyline.

Special FX Score: 8.05

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Special FX Review:

Stage Fright utilizes the entire Melon Patch Theatre to bring Manor of Madness to life. Impressively, there’s a three-week load in time for the haunt. You’ll enter through the theatre’s lobby, head down a hallway filled with past productions, and enter the green room. From there, you’re taken on stage as you weave downstage, upstage, stage left, and stage right through a majority of the haunt. In what became a jaw-dropping moment, you’ll walk off stage and into the house of the theatre which has been transformed into a full graveyard. A thick layer of fog and green lasers create an otherworldly glow as ghosts rise up behind the gravestones along the back wall of the theatre. It was a moment of genius and proved a theatre is the perfect setting for a haunted house. Removing the seats of a theatre would be too time-consuming, especially when the haunt is bookended by productions in Melon Patch’s regular season, so a graveyard was an ingenious way of utilizing such a large room. It really closed out the haunt in a grand way and there may or may not have been some extra surprises lurking behind those theatre seats we were not expecting.

The haunt utilized a variety of animatronics, projectors to bring the spirits of the manor to life, drop panels, air blasts, and lasers to create misdirection. Several rooms seemed to have dead ends until the actors sprung to life and revealed the way out. There were full sound effects throughout the haunt and, as mentioned earlier, a full intro video with the lady of the manor in the parlor. For the length of the haunt, it’s jam-packed with special effects and you won’t be disappointed!

Scare Factor Score: 8.34

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Scare Factor Review:

The cast at Stage Fright is watching you from the moment you arrive. They have an Angel Code, named after the cast member who greets you before you enter the attraction. If someone is too scared to enter the haunt, they will radio to the cast who will tone down the scares for your group to ensure everyone has an enjoyable evening. On the flip side, they’re not afraid to ramp up the scares and make it a very intense experience.

The haunt provided each of us with several scares, including a closet scene that had two potential routes of travel. Another favorite scare moment was before we entered the graveyard. An actress, surrounded by thick, green fog was asking, “Have you seen my sister?” To her right, hands slowly and suddenly rose from the fog, breaking the green laser that was knee level right before the missing sister jumped up from the fog and completed the scare. All in all, we found the haunt to be surprisingly scary and it would make a great night out for families looking to have a frightening experience this Halloween season.

Entertainment & Value Score: 8.42

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E&V Review:

Tickets for Manor of Madness only cost $5. That’s right, $5, and proceeds go towards furthering the arts in Leesburg, FL. The attraction is a steal for $5 and easily worth double or triple the ticket price.

The attraction is a haunt and theater lover’s dream come true, and we promise you’ll be amazed at how well Stage Fright is able to manipulate and utilize every square inch of the Melon Patch. New this year is a Concessions Midway in front of the theatre. While the Midway wasn’t running during the media preview, it will feature candy apples, face paintings, homemade treats, and tarot readings which are the perfect way to cap off your night after taking center stage.

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Pics We Took From Our Visit:

Guest Reviews
Guest Average: 10 out of 10

Kelby – 10/10October 22, 2022
Great actors, great set up, lots of detail and scare points. Was too much for my 5yr old but I …show more absolutely loved it

Brian – 10/10October 25, 2019
Alex invests his time all year to make the best Haunted House in Central Florida! If you’re looking …show more for a safe haunted house for the whole family, this is it.

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