BEDFORD, Ohio — A unique immersive theater experience now performing in Bedford is tackling a grisly chapter in Northeast Ohio history: the Cleveland Torso Murders.
“Shadow of the Run Chapter One: Wanderlust” is an immersive theater experience that “gets the audience out of their seats and into the action,” said Adam Kern, the show’s co-creator and one of the four business partners behind the production.
In immersive theater, audience members take part in the theater experience, getting to be scene partners to the actors, and allowing them to choose their own track, like a “Choose Your Own Adventure” story.
“More than just watching theater, you are actually there feet away from the characters,” Kern said, “living the story with them.”
Kern was inspired by similar immersive theater and extreme haunted house experiences that have run in New York and Los Angeles, such as “Sleep No More,” which was brought to the United States from London by his peers at his grad school.
After Kern moved back to the Cleveland area, he sought out opportunities for an immersive experience here, and reached out to a friend who suggested basing the production on the infamous Cleveland Torso Murderer, an as-of-yet unidentified serial killer who killed and dismembered 12 known victims in the 1930s.
The first chapter of the show is based around his first victim, nicknamed the “Lady of Lake,” but who was never identified. The show’s producers are presenting the story as historical fiction loosely based on the murders, Kern said.
The performance lasts for about 90 minutes, Kern said, and does involve substantial walking – about three-quarters of a mile around five historical buildings in Bedford and a section of Cleveland MetroParks in the area. Kern said the City of Bedford reached out to them and offered to let them use those spaces.
In total, there are 21 actors and six to seven crew members working together to perform the experience. Shows run from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. nightly, with new shows starting every 20 minutes.
Chapter One will run until August 4, and Kern said that tickets are beginning to sell quickly.
View a trailer for the production from Red Bicycle Media below:
Chapter Two and Three of the trilogy are still being worked on, but Kern said Chapter Two will focus on famous investigator Eliot Ness coming to Cleveland, with the final “big show” based on his investigation into the murders.
Kern expects the third chapter to incorporate multiple escape rooms, which will affect the storyline that the audience sees. Those shows are still being developed, with Chapter Three at least a year and a half away, Kern said.