Six Flags Great Adventure Exposes The Local Talent Behind The Terror Of Fright Fest

JACKSON – Colorful characters define Six Flags Great Adventure’s Fright Fest. Among more than 150 witches, blood-thirsty vampires, murderous barbers, chainsaw wielders, mental patients, deranged doctors, mutant hillbillies and dancing zombies, several outrageous personalities and the masterminds behind them bring something unique to Fright Fest that cannot be found at any local hayride or corn maze. Fright Fest has helped turn these everyday New Jerseyans into icons of terror.

The Ghoulmaster – Toms River’s Pete Carter
Michael Jackson impersonator, filmmaker

It’s no accident that the iconic Ghoulmaster character bears a resemblance to the King of Pop in both appearance and movement. Character creator Pete Carter of Toms River, a professional Michael Jackson impersonator, first joined Fright Fest in 2000 as a street performer. His Ghoulmaster character, clad in a black leather bustier, top hat and platform boots, has since become synonymous with Fright Fest.

Since 2006, the park has continually expanded Carter’s role through The Awakening ghoul procession and stage show, the creation of his own street show, and since 2010, a full stage production dedicated to his character, Ghoulmaster’s Ghosts.

When he is not performing as the evil Ghoulmaster, Carter travels across the country as a King of Pop impersonator. He often takes his moves to Atlantic City where he makes appearances at Boogie Nights at Resorts Casino and Hotel. Carter is also a film-maker and editor, and Ghoulmaster’s Ghosts showcases some of his creative work.

Dead Man’s Party Choreographer – Long Beach Island’s Ashlé Dawson
‘So You Think You Can Dance’ finalist dances around the world

Ashlé Dawson of Long Beach Island was just 15 years old the first time she danced at Six Flags Great Adventure. Since that time, Dawson’s career has taken her to exotic places, made her a household name among young, aspiring dancers and given her a forum to share her gift of dance.

Following several years as a performer in Dead Man’s Party, Dawson was a top 4 finalist on FOX’s inaugural season of So You Think You Can Dance in 2005 at age 21. She was known as the show’s “most versatile dancer,” as her specialties range from contemporary to lyrical, salsa, hip hop, jazz, African and Afro Cuban, reggaeton, waackin, popping and even ballet. She has since performed and taught internationally, including Asia, Mexico, Europe, South and Central America and Puerto Rico. Even with her hectic international schedule, she has choreographed Fright Fest’s iconic Dead Man’s Party show for the past six years.

Dawson, who moved to northern New Jersey last year, founded and directs Ashlé & Co., a pre-professional dance company based in New Jersey, and is also the co-founder of “IF” The Intensive.

Demon Barber of Main Street – Hightstown’s Antwan Michael
Former American Idol hopeful, off-Broadway performer

Although this is his first year joining Fright Fest, Antwan Michael is no stranger to performing. This 20-year-old from Hightstown, has graced the stage in a national touring production of “The Color Purple” as Young Harpo, as well as an off-Broadway production of “Rent” and many local community productions. He was also honored with an invitation to sing at the White House for Congressman Elijah Cummings. It was in 2010 when he made the top 43 of FOX’s American Idol that he realized that performing was what he wanted to do. “I’ve been performing since I was 3 years old and I know that being on stage is where I belong. Music and performing is what I was born to do,” said Michael, who is currently working on his first EP.

Michael’s Fright Fest character is a departure from his typical roles, exploring the more sinister side of mankind as the Demon Barber of Main Street. His one-man show chronicles a tale of heartbreak and loss and features songs from Wicked, Sweeney Todd and Phantom of the Opera. Guests can experience the Demon Barber at the Liberty Square Gazebo on Main Street.

Behind the Tortured Faces – Toms River’s Tony Mandile
Artist & movie FX master transforms Fright Fest

Tony Mandile, a Toms River native, began lending his make-up and airbrush talents to Fright Fest in 1999, the first year of the Alice Cooper’s Brutal Planet attraction, where he was sought out for his airbrush artistry. Since that time, Mandile’s creations have become increasingly more elaborate…and disturbing.

His career as a special effects make-up artist began in 1995 with local legend Kevin Smith’s View Askew Productions, and he has been making his mark on feature films for the past 16 years. In addition to his work as a special effects make-up artist, he wrote and directed his own feature film “Midnight Mass” in 2001 that was released by Lions Gate Home Entertainment to the worldwide video market.

Mandile’s company, Anatomy FX, LLC, manufactures a line of retail prosthetic appliances and props to the film industry. This will be his eleventh season with Six Flags Great Adventure’s Fright Fest.

Local Average Joes Become Chainsaw-Wielding Zombies and Psycho Clowns

By day, Pete Tirella of Seaside Park is a mild-mannered middle school language arts teacher in Point Pleasant who runs a surf camp during the summer. But by night, Tirella has been scaring the wits out of park goers for seven years as a chainsaw-wielding zombie. Tirella, a married father of two young boys, was a fan of Halloween and became mesmerized by Fright Fest zombies—so much that he became one.

Kyle Covill of Levittown, Pa. began his Six Flags career as a veterinary technician in the Wild Safari, but the lure of Fright Fest called him to the theme park. Once Covill put a clown costume and fluffy, blue wig on his large, 6-foot-1-inch frame, he knew something horrifyingly magical had happened. This married father with a young daughter, now a wildlife inspector with the U.S. Division of Fish and Wildlife, has been an integral part of the dreaded “Circus Psycho” area for the past five years. Guests can often find Covill stalking Circus Psycho with his hideous, half-melted clown face.

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