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Issue 20, Volume 2

In Volume 1, we looked at the various elements that make up Ghosts Alive; things like the story, the setting, the actors and the audience, and we spent the weekend of April 1st with The Sudden Impact! Entertainment Company to see how these elements formed the cornerstones of Ghosts Alive.

Ghosts Alive cast

The cast of Warwick Ghosts Alive having completed Scare School

Having graduated from Scare School, the 31st of March is the first full day of dress rehearsals with Ghosts Alive opening properly to the public on the 1st of April.

But, the day before, Lynton told the actors that there had been a change in plan, and that the attraction was opening a day earlier. So, as far as the actors knew, the 31st of March is the first day where paying members of the public would be going through the show.

On the 30th, a few select groups of schoolchildren went through, so it wouldn’t be the first time actors would have the chance of scaring people, but it would be the first real day of getting an idea of the average working day for the cast, whether arriving, putting on makeup, or dealing with the constant flow of people throughout the day.

The day started off with the cast meeting outside the entrance of the castle discussing how the day before went. Several jokingly said that they felt guilty making 14-year-old girls jump, although this was very much something that played on the conscience of many actors through the first couple of days.

Warwick Castle

1: Dressing room in the Spy Tower
2: The Ghost Tower
Image: Warwick Castle

Lynton arrives, and the group make their way to the dressing rooms inside the castle itself. Situated in the Spy Tower, a turret overlooking the Watergate Tower in which Ghosts Alive is performed, the morning starts in earnest with the cast scaling up the dozens of steps on a narrow spiral staircase.

The room is littered with the home comforts of any dressing room; makeup, clothes, bottles of water and mirrors, while – in typical in Warwick Castle – it is opulently furnished with wooden panelling, a chandelier hanging from the ceiling, and leaded windows overlooking the centre lawn and the iconic Guy’s Tower.

Without any form of prompt, the actors begin the now-daily ritual of donning their gladrags, and makeup as they prepare for the first shows of 2006. Today, half an hour has been allowed for prep time, although once the attraction opens this time will drop as today Ghosts Alive has the full cast of 14 in, which – in the Spy Tower – means intimate working conditions at best.

Makeup on
Wardrobe
Actors put on their own makeup. Each actor has their own costume. They clean the parts they can, while Tussauds dry clean what they can't.

The actors wear period-themed costumes custom-designed by Rozzy Alexander, who – based in America – has done a lot of work for Lynton V Harris and The Sudden Impact! Entertainment Company. Makeup, meanwhile, is applied by the actors themselves, copied from guides drawn up by Siobhan Harper Ryan, another long time Sudden Impact! collaborator who is also known for her work on the UK comedy series, Bo Selecta.

The makeup design is simple, but effective in the darkened confines of the Ghost Tower. It comprises of darkened eyes, whitened faces, exaggerated wrinkles as well as the occasional token splash of theatrical blood.

Having a single makeup artist is too time consuming for Warwick, and unnecessary, although a group of four or five work on the monstrous Philadelphia show which sees a cast of 80-100 people, some in makeup, some in custom latex masks.

As if the actors were in theatre, there are time checks to make sure everything is running to schedule. With five minutes to go before the cast are due downstairs, they’re running behind time, although this is a good indication for what needs to be done on a normal day.

Beauties to Beasts
Click on the tabs to learn about becoming a ghost

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Coaster Kingdom Magazine

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Issue 20: Jul 2006

Issue 20, Volume 1
Volume 1
A History of Ghosts Alive and interviews with the cast

Issue 20, Volume 2
Volume 2
Diary from spending the day with the cast as they prepare for the 2006 show 

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Phil Ariss looks at how travelling coasters have changed over time in Open Mic

In The Picture
In The Picture
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