If you’re looking for ways to escape the blistering LA heat, skip the cliché swimming pools and water parks; The Willows will chill you to the core. The Willows is a blend of mystery dinner theatre, haunted house and immersive sensory adventure that will blow your mind.
We started this twisted evening blindfolded and carted by van to a gorgeous 1912 mansion where Lindsey the Butler greeted us at the door. On our heels was weird Uncle Ricky, who whisked us into the parlor for cocktail hour. Uncertain who the cast members were and who were guests, we mingled amidst palpable tension in the air. Soon warnings about Jonathan, the deceased son we were there to honor, leaked into conversations, and members of the upper crust Willows family became apparent.
From there began exploration of the eerily beautiful 10,000 square-foot home and immersion into twisted encounters, some with a paranormal bent. The two-hour event includes a dinner party with the brilliantly bizarre cast who interact with guests and drop creepy clues about Jonathan’s fate. You might become fast BFFs with the mentally challenged Conrad or throw drinks back with Jonathan’s alcoholic widow, Claudia. Whether you’re clamoring for the sinister matriarch’s approval or visiting a corpse in the bedroom, you’ll truly feel part of this eccentric family’s eerie celebration. The experience gets progressively crazier as the night goes on, evolving into sensory overload coupled with psychological thrills.
As a horror writer and lover of all things haunted, it takes a lot to scare me, but the Willows pushes boundaries in a way that’s difficult to separate from reality. Set in a spooky, historic-feeling neighborhood, the house feels nothing like a set which makes it hard to shake off once you leave. That’s okay—you want the effects to last as long as possible. The cast features sublime actors with mad improv skills who bring credible, perfectly over-the-top depth to each character. You’re split up from your friends throughout dinner and beyond, which promotes true immersion in the evening. There are only 18 guests per performance, so you’re always interacting in provocative scenarios as Jonathan’s disturbing mythology is slowly revealed. No two guests have the same experience, which makes you want to go back to see what you missed.
The event is produced by Just Fix It (JFI) Productions, the groundbreaking creative team behind Creep Los Angeles, so I knew it would be good, but The Willows is truly next level. It’s fun, devious, stylized and psychologically thrilling—a truly bespoke horror adventure. Forget conventional summer theater—be brave and face The Willows for a night you won’t soon forget. Performances take place through July 29 with two shows per night at 7 pm and 9:30 pm. Visit this link for more information.
Latest posts by Chaton Anderson (see all)
- A Chilly Adventure at The Willows to Beat the L.A. Heat - August 14, 2017
- So Cal Halloween Haunts - October 26, 2015
- Ojai, California — The Perfect Escape - September 22, 2014