A brand new adventure awaits those coming to Halloween Warm-up

Published 2:56 pm Monday, September 25, 2023

For years, the annual Halloween Warm-up has been a mainstay of fall activities in Austin, taking families through the Jay C. Hormel Nature Center on a nightly foray into the wild while combining stories of nature with a few creeps.

And each year, this two-night event has included the Matchbox Children’s Theatre, whose members helped bring each of the stops to life.

This year’s Halloween Warm-up, held Friday and Saturday starting each night at 6:30 p.m. at the Nature Center is no different in that regard, however, it is now taking a roll of the dice — as it were — with a whole new story and format.

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People will now enter the world of adventure, dungeons and maybe some dragons.

“It’s a major reworking,” said MCT Executive Director Angela Sedgwick Perry. “We are having the actors within the groups, not the stations. We’ve made sure the story attaches well and still has enough stations to keep you entertained as you pass through.”

This is the 40th year of the event and with this new format, titled “Beware the Dragon Queen,” the MCT is able to make use of a new facet within the troupe — role playing games.

MCT’s two dungeon masters, those who run the table-top games at MCT, have developed the stories and through the effort are bringing the character of Echo to life. 

Echo is the guide for each group, requiring five people to be cast in the role. In total, there are 28 actors cast to operate within the stories created by Kylie Larons and Ike McIntosh.

Combining volunteers and those associated with the Jay C. Hormel Nature Center, the entire two-night holding of Halloween Warm-up consists of 40 people being involved.

“It’s rewarding already. It’s so inspiring and exciting,” Sedgwick Perry said. “We really haven’t done something new for so long.”

Sedgwick Perry said the story follows Echo through the woods of the Nature Center, meeting others along the way in the enchanted forest including gnomes, a woodsman and maybe even a giant.

“At every station you accompany Echo on this mission,” Sedgwick Perry said, taking care not to share everything from this year’s event. “You get to meet these characters and talk with them until you get to the very end. When you get to the end, there is this big party going on. You get rewarded by getting to go to the party.”

It is at this party that people get the chance to enjoy some hot apple cider and cookies.

Sedgwick Perry said that she hopes this new version of an old event can bring both kids and adults together for some of the old fun done in a new way, and that each year can include something new.

“The exciting thing is next year it will be a new story,” she said. “We have that wide open door now to include our staff and kiddos to write it and hopefully a lot more.”

Tickets this year can be purchased from the Second Act Thrift Store located at 3301 West Oakland Avenue, open 3-7 p.m., Wednesday-Friday and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday. Tickets are $10 with those three and under getting in free.