West Hartford Hauntings returns for more historical frights

WEST HARTFORD — The Noah Webster House and West Hartford Historical Society will again bring its theatrical take on historical hauntings to Old North Cemetery.

West Hartford Hauntings, in its 17th year, is again led by artistic director Suzanne Sayers, who is in her 13th year in that position.

Sayers said they have a new batch of spooky stories based in West Hartford’s own history they hope will educate and entertain the audience.

“I really love it because we’re telling different stories every year,” Sayers said. “We’re continuing to tell stories about real people who lived and died in West Hartford. I am always interested in seeing what the actors will bring to life by honoring these people. They were regular folk and not famous. You can recognize them for who they were and their history and their contribution to West Hartford.”

One of the stories they’ll be telling this year is of Rebecca Greensmith, who, along with her husband and another woman, was accused of witchcraft in 1663. The character of the show’s tour guide is based on her accuser.

“It was a real life witch hunt,” Sayers said. “The people we are focusing on, they were the last three who were hanged for witchcraft. This also took place 30 years before Salem. People don’t realize that Hartford has a history there.”

This year, the show has around 25 actors ranging in age from 11 to more than 60 years old. Sayers said the strength of the cast lies in their desire to learn as much as they can about their respective characters.

“I love that a lot of the actors really want to explore in more depth who their character is, even if acting wasn’t what they were doing before being in the show,” Sayers said. “The tour guides also take a vested interest in their character and that really helps when they’re talking to the audience and guiding them through the cemetery. The actors really personalize it. They are really invested. They care deeply about the characters.”

Aside from the Halloween-appropriate topic of witchcraft, the show will also explore a Revolutionary War story featuring Ithuriel Flowers.

“We do have a brand new Revolutionary War story about a young soldier, who was 18 and went off to war. He’s fighting for freedom...but realizes that not all people are free,” Sayers said. “He talks about how some of the slaves at that time had to go to war and were maybe promised freedom.”

Tickets, which are $15 for adults and $10 for children, are expected to sell out quickly, Sayers said, which is why they added a fifth night in the form of a preview night. The preview night is on Oct. 21 and offers discounted tickets. Shows will continue on Oct. 22, 23, 29 and 30. Tours leave every 15 minutes from 6 to 8:45 p.m. and run for 45 minutes. Tickets can be purchased online at noahwebster.yapsody.com.