Manager of Stuff and Things!
“I do things!” Melissa Sapienza says with a laugh.
In 2016, she started her ScareHouse career as an actor before becoming a show manager in 2017. “And then for 2019, they asked me to be a part of the core management team and also gave me the task of operating Bold Escape Rooms which then expanded to axe throwing as well.”
Sapienza’s dual title is Internal and Promotional Consultant for ScareHouse as well as Operations Manager of Bold Escape Rooms and Steel City Axes (try putting all that on a business card!). As a decision-maker within the management team, one of the main things she helps with is hiring actors and crew members, based on specific qualities she’s come to look for drawing from her own experience.
“Customer service background is a big plus. You have that awareness of how to interact with various characters throughout the night. Plus, adaptability and flexibility. Positions can change, and being able to adapt to perform in any situation, whether it be character change or spot change is important. Overall, we appreciate a friendly demeanor, too.”
And it never hurts to know how to improv, both as a performer and as a team player.
“I’ve always been known to be a problem solver. That comes into play when looking at scheduling and handling call-offs, or customer service situations that might involve actors.”
In fact, creativity in the job is something that made Sapienza start working for ScareHouse in the first place. In her former career, she was an early education teacher for 11 years, which included working around children within preschool/daycare, therapeutic staff support, and special needs.
“As much as I enjoy working with children and being part of their early development, it came down to outgrowing that position and finding a lot of joy in being able to have a creative outlet where I work. Coming up with ways to make an experience more fun for guests. That helped feed into that creativity.”
Plus, helping cultivate enjoyable experiences for ScareHouse also relates to this previous profession.
“There are still things I see myself using, similar practices, just with different types of people.”
Sapienza says it’s still crazy to think about her trajectory at ScareHouse, from actor to manager to leader, and if she had to break it down, there are a few things she especially loves about her job(s)—plural.
“For 2420 Penn Avenue, I enjoy the customer service experience and making sure the guests are having a good time, and interacting with them. Just getting to know them. I like meeting new people. When it comes to ScareHouse, I would say my favorite part is being a helping hand and being a support system for the management team and cast and crew, if they ever need somebody.”
And she still gets to flex her acting chops from time to time.
“I like the fact that I can take a day and say, ‘Hey, I’m gonna be a little clown tonight and run around.’ I like to be able to still scare people and check up on actors when I get a chance.”
And when she’s not working at ScareHouse, she really does do all the things, as she’s involved in independent horror projects, most recently acting and serving as assistant director on the upcoming film The House That Eats Flesh with actress Lisa Wilcox, star of A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 4 and 5 alum.
“I watched her growing up, so it was like a dream come true!”