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      Haunted Theatre serves up a round of spooks

      Brave souls are invited to step into the Haunted Theatre at Northern Michigan University this weekend. It's a fundraiser for the NMU First Nighters' Club, a booster club for the theatre.

      You might as well call Marty Martello, Mr. Halloween. He has been turning heads with his spooky holiday setups for years. Now, he has arsenal of tools in his palette that he waits all year to to release, with one goal in mind.

      "I want to scare people, I want them to be so scared, they lose control and don't know what to do with themselves," says Martello.

      Trained actors, a closet of theatrical supplies and a space that's truly rumored to be haunted becomes the Forest Robert's Haunted Theatre.

      Customers or 'victims' will pass through 16 areas, that's three more than last year.

      Martello gave us a sneak peek but was tight-lipped about what's new in the third installment of Marquette's terror trap. He did say it's not for the faint of heart.

      "There's easily 10-15 people each year that have to use the 'safe word' and be taken out because they can't make it," said Martello.

      But, that's where the preparation and behind-the-scenes work of this project shine. To these actors, this is a performance, the only difference is their audience couldn't get closer, they're only inches away.

      Each character is directed and supervised, but it's not hard to tell when their work is complete.

      "They take scary ideas, and they terrify me with them," says assistant director and NMU theatre student Abby Ropp. "I think if I'm getting uncomfortable, then that's probably a good thing."

      The Haunted Theatre will be held Thursday through Saturday night. A PG-13 adventure will be offered from 8 to 11 p.m. each day, with child-friendly tours scheduled from 4 to 6:30 p.m. Saturday. Admission is $5 for children and NMU students, $10 for adults, and $15 for families during the child-friendly period.