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Scaring and entertaining - a look at how to become a 'Howl-O-Scream' performer

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Posted at 3:28 PM, Jul 31, 2021

WILLIAMSBURG, Va. -- Getting paid to go out and scare people? It might sound too good to be true, but that's exactly what you can expect at Busch Gardens.

“It's really a chance to get outside your shell and really just be kind of wild and kooky,” Matthew Edwards, the entertainment manager at Busch Gardens Williamsburg, said.

Busch Gardens is looking to hire 450 performers to take on Halloween roles for the park's annual Howl-O-Scream this Halloween season. Edwards said it is a perfect role for anyone who likes scaring people and is passionate about Halloween.

"It does take a lot of dedication,” Edwards said. “You're scaring, you're going all night long, six-hour shifts."

Performers will be paid $15 an hour, but you need to go through an audition process. Those that qualify will perform during the annual event which runs from September 12 to October 31.

Performers will get to perform throughout the park just like Jack has since 2001. Those who audition need to make sure their performance satisfies Jack, the pumpkin-headed “mastermind” behind Howl-O-Scream.

“After all, as the king of Howl-O-Scream, I can't be having people who displease me running around now, can I,” Jack explained to News 3 with a cackle. “We don't want anyone here accidentally taking a bite out of one of our guests, now do we.”

Both Edwards and Jack explained what some of the auditions can consist of. They gave News 3 reporter Julio Avila a test.

"We would want to see some different inflections so I would ask you to give me a laugh, any kind of laugh that you got in you,” Edwards explained.

"Now do some vocalization,” Jack ordered Julio, to which he put on a deeper-sounding demonic voice, which satisfied Jack. "Not terrible, not terrible."

Experience is not required to audition. Those interested must be able to work long sets doing repetitive movement and vocalizations. They must be able to wear make-up and/or masks and be comfortable working in dark conditions.

Applicants will audition in a group setting and participate in improvisational and physicality exercises to demonstrate vocal and physical stamina, startle ability and scare tactics. The theme park also urges interested applicants to wear comfortable clothing.

Whether you are looking for a stepping stone in acting, or just to have fun, both said there is a role for everyone.

"There are so many different ways to go scaring people,” Jack said. “Just ask yourself -- what would old Jack do? Spoiler alert - Old Jack would do anything to get a great scare.”

Auditions are Thursdays from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturdays from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. at the Busch Gardens Entertainment Office. Those who apply, audition, and get offered a role by Saturday, August 14 will earn a $500 sign-on bonus.