A Chicagoland icon rolled into town on Saturday when Chicago Street Theatre hosted Svengoolie, host of the eponymous horror and comedy program, during their annual Halloween Party. Featuring a meet and greet photo session with the ghoul, plenty of food and drinks, and a production of Chicago Street Theatre’s Evil Dead the Musical. It is safe to say that horror fans around the region had a night to remember.
The Halloween Party is one of the biggest events of the season for Chicago Street Theatre. Sci-fi and horror fans find their finest masks, wield their most intimidating fake chainsaws, and spookiest garb before coming to the theatre for a chance to meet the Chicago TV icon and enjoy a performance from the talented cast of CST. Svengoolie, portrayed by Rich Koz, is now mainstay at the event since joining in on the fun five years ago.
“It was kind of mind-blowing the first year he came out, it was like, ‘Wow, he’s really here,’” said Eric Brant, Chicago Street Theatre’s Director of Marketing. “They fell in love with us the first year they did it and said ‘we’re going to put you down in our calendar every year because we love Northwest Indiana and the crowds you get.’”
Koz met every single attendee that made it out the event, signed posters, t-shirts, and made a fan for life out of just about everyone. What he wants people to know is that meeting the fans is just as important to him as it is for them.
“I’m always overwhelmed by the number of people that show up and the fact that they’re so excited to see me because what I do means something to them,” Koz said. “I like coming out here, to Chicago Street especially, because I like supporting the theatre and I know how hard the people here work.”
The event is exciting for the cast and staff because Svengoolie’s popularity brings in so many new faces to experience their shows. Many of the attendees drawn in by the icon had never seen one of the theatre’s plays before, such as Jean Kokinda and her sister Cheryl Wilson. The pair grew up watching Svengoolie on TV and remain fans of his to this day.
“We used to watch him when we were kids, we grew up on him,” Kokinda said. “He gave us great memories, we would watch him every Saturday. All my brothers and sisters were big sci-fi and horror fans, and still are!”
Wilson was impressed by the party and how passionate not just the staff were, but the attendees as well.
“It’s a great atmosphere here,” Wilson said. “It’s a lot of people out just having some fun!”
Once everyone met Svengoolie, the CST cast performed this year’s Halloween themed play, Evil Dead the Musical. It affectionately parodies the legendary Sam Raimi film that spawned two sequels, video games, comics, and a TV series. The stars are excited to bring such an exciting production to the Region.
“It’s awesome that we’re doing a show that’s so iconic,” said Tyler Mills, who stars in the lead role as Ash Williams. “We get a lot of fans that are expecting a lot of things since it’s so famous. Being able to get the laughs, nail the jokes, and just putting on a really fun show and making people walk out excited and happy is just awesome.”