Madame Sarita's Spirit Parlour

On Halloween night, when the Carnival of Souls apparates in the middle of this lonely desert town, the veil between the spirit world and the mortal world breaks down, and humans have the opportunity to interact with the shades and ghosts of the Carnival.

This phenomenon is of keen interest to the gypsies and mystics who seek to learn all secrets of the afterlife. Every year, Madame Sarita, spirit medium and ghost talker, comes to the Carnival of Souls to try to solve its mysteries and lay to rest the tormented souls who haunt its desolate grounds.

Last year, she had a close call with the spirit of the evil Marius Blackwood, and came to understand the diabolical thrall she has over the innocent Sarah Beaumont. So she studied and researched all year to find a way to break Marius' hold on the poor ghost and let her rest in peace. This is the story of what happened.

(You can also read the final draft of the script - it was changed a bit for the actual performance, but is pretty close to the final script.)

About the show

Sarita set-up
Sarita Smiles

Madame Sarita's Spirit Parlour is a black light puppet show and special effects extravaganza that we try to improve every year. We create a stage in our garage and put on a show that tells the story of the Carnival of Souls to help people get a sense of its history and personalities.

The ghosts are really the stars of the show. They are created as life-size puppets painted with fluorescent paint. We then illuminate them using standard black lights, and place them against a black backdrop. Because the puppeteers that man the puppets are dressed entirely in black, they fade into the background, making it seem like the ghosts float in mid-air.

In 2005, we performed eight shows to an audience of about 30 visitors per show, for a total of about 240 people. The show was manned by 6 people at a time. Here's the cast, crew, and contributors:

Finally, a special mention of our friends over at Midnight Syndicate. Midnight Syndicate is a spooky soundscapes band that graciously provided their music for use in the show free of charge. In fact, they provide the haunt industry in general with great creepy music for their attractions, from the pro haunts down to little home haunts like our own. If you enjoyed the music from the show, pick up one of their albums.


Creating Madame Sarita's Spirit Parlour

Puppet show blocking
Byron, Jan, and Terry block some action

Last year, we had exactly two hours to plan, create, and erect the stage for our show. We had originally planned for it to be in the back yard, but huge winds literally tore our stage apart, so we moved it inside and created an ad-hoc stage, just in time for the first performance. We had no time for rehearsals last year, and all the typical garage junk was in plain sight to all our visitors, which probably detracted from the spooky feel we were going for. Worse, we could only use about two-thirds of the garage because of all the stuff in it.

This year, we did a lot better. Rather than a garage, we actually had a "theater" of sorts. We completely surrounded the audience with a facade that looked like wood paneling, and we were able to use nearly the entire garage, which allowed each show to accommodate far more people. Our animated portrait frame was more detailed, our sound system was better placed, and we installed a framework for easily erecting the stage for future shows.

In addition, we had multiple rehearsals, starting on the day before Halloween. This was important, because our show was much more complex than last year. For instance, last year, Sarita passes out at the beginning and only wakes up at the end, allowing the entire show to be prescripted.

This year, there was a lot more interaction between Madame Sarita and the various ghosts and spirits, so not only did Sarita have to learn more lines, she also had to deliver them perfectly within the constraints of the prescripted soundtrack, interacting with the ghosts in such a way that the dialogue flowed naturally, even though one side was pre-recorded.