Kersey Valley Spookywoods' story begins with a midnight dare. During a campout with his friends in the summer of 1985, 15-year-old Tony Wohlgemuth needled his friend Chuck into sneaking into the abandoned farmhouse that they were camping behind. As he crept up the steps, the other boys nervously waited outside. Shattering the tense energy with sheer terror, they heard Chuck's screams and pleas for help from within. When they ran inside to rescue him, they found his screeches were brought on by an encounter with a family of bats, which convinced them that the house was, in fact, haunted. This inspired the crew to set up their own haunted house in the same barn that October, and in the decades since, Tony and his wife, Donna, owners and operators of Spookywoods, have grown the operation from a small venue run by 10 teenage friends into a sprawling attraction run by upward of 300 staff members.
Nestled on a 65-acre farm, Spookywoods coaxes screams from visitors from the end of September until Halloween. A variety of attractions, such as the Deadly Harvest, Terror Trams, Fright Lights, and The Dreaded Inn—discovered by Chuck so many years ago—test guests’ bravery. The Deadly Harvest corn maze scares explorers silly, thanks to 10-foot-high cornstalks patrolled by a host of masked ghouls, who are really just misunderstood lost souls looking for someone to hug and love them. Along with its signature attractions, Spookywoods hosts other seasonal events such as the Dark Circus Halloween party, replete with fire shows and DJs.
On Stage's seasoned dance instructors provide bodily instruction to a range of students interested in learning the art of dance, from toddlers wishing to perfect their pirouettes to adults desiring to learn jazz, tap, or hip-hop struts. A smorgasbord of classes spans the age gamut, sending burgeoning boogiers ages 2–11 cavorting through basic moves and techniques that encompass tumbling, ballet, jazz, and tap. Or enroll sprouts in the Musical Theatre class, a session that fuses the art of dance with vocal training to give them the skills necessary to melodically showcase talents and properly choreograph foot-stomping temper tantrums. Older dancers and adults can choose from lyrical, ballet, tap, and jazz, or shake hips with the more mainstream dance moves of hip-hop. Each class combines the enjoyment of dance with a full-body workout that's more fun than chasing donuts inside an oversize gerbil wheel.
Brazilian-born Eumir Deodato deftly infuses R&B, combo jazz, Latin, funk, and symphonic musings into a zesty swirl of Grammy-winning harmony. Deodato boasts production and arrangement credits for a diverse net of performers including Aretha Franklin, Björk, Kool & The Gang, and more. High Point Theatre cradles its melody seekers in the spacious yet inviting confines of its nearly 1,000-seat auditorium, ensuring all ears are filled to the brim during Deodato's palpable performance.
In fast-paced matches, gals on the all-female, skater-owned Greensboro Roller Derby dash around the track, throwing hips and shoulders into opposing skaters in a full-contact race for the high score. In the booming sport of roller derby, teams sets up on a flat track, each positioning four blockers in front and a jammer close behind. Jammers dash forward while battling and dodging blockers, scoring one point for each blocker who is passed or hypnotized with a pocket watch. The sport rewards agility, speed, and wearing burly kneepads, as jammers face a gauntlet of menacing bumps, blocks, bear hugs, and grandmotherly cheek pinches on the road to victory. In the exciting November matchup, the Battleground Betties will defend their June victory against the Mad Dollies, who arrive amped up by a recent win in October, and December's championship match will pit the top two teams (TBD) against one another in a furious final bout. Despite the merciless skating techniques in play, the gals' good humor shows in their voluptuous costumes, outlandish alter-ego monikers, and jovial piledrivers.
Grammy-nominated bassist John Brown and his band delight audiences with jazzy, jubilant tunes and an inter-musician chemistry that has garnered the group an award at the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival for its short film on recording music. During a traveling Christmas concert, the band grooves through a playlist of classic holiday favorites and original pieces, including an a cappella reading of John Brown's Christmas list. While Brown lends his internationally admired plucking to the score, a troupe of trombones, saxes, and guitars dusts off Christmas carols and sends them high-kicking and Lindy-hopping through the theater.
Artistic Empowerment Centers Inc is a non-profit performing arts organization inspired by both spiritual and creative forces, staging plays focused on uplifting and introspective stories about the black experience. Their current calendar of shows includes Fabric of 'She', a story about a young woman aspiring to be an entertainer during the Harlem Renaissance, and The 'N' Word, a one-act play in which friends debate the use of racial slurs and is followed by an audience discussion forum.