Andrew Gabrielson performs graveside at a past Stroll Haunted Yarmouth. Royal River Community Players is gearing up for this year’s shows, Oct. 20-29. Contributed / Photo by Randy Billmeier

A Yarmouth blacksmith and his three wives. A boy sledding down Meetinghouse Road. A mysterious missing clock. The first big fire in town.

Those stories and others from the dearly departed interred at the Old Baptist Hillside Cemetery will be told at the sixth annual Stroll Haunted Yarmouth from Oct. 20 through Oct. 29.

The immersive theater event provides entertaining local history lessons that, because it is held in a cemetery in the evenings during the Halloween season, can be spooky while “engaging all your senses,” says Director Gwen Wahlquist.

And, it’s popular. Nearly every performance has sold out in its first five years.

Gwen Wahlquist performs in last year’s Stroll Haunted Yarmouth. She’s the director this year. Contributed / Photo by Randy Billmeier

The Yarmouth History Center and the Royal River Community Players collaborate for the show. The historical society provides the theater group with the backgrounds of 10 people buried in Hillside Cemetery. RRCP chooses from among those stories and gets to work on the scripts, according to Wahlquist. Casting to fill the deceased storytellers’ roles begins in August.

The show is broken up into seven vignettes. For an hour starting at 5:30 p.m. and then again at 7:30 p.m., seven groups of 13 will make their way through the cemetery, rotating through the graveside performances.


Participants shouldn’t read too much into the number 13, said Producer Melina Roberts.

“Thirteen is not because of Halloween,” Roberts said, laughing. “Ironically, it’s because we can fit 91 people in our playhouse if we have inclement weather.”

Roberts, who was inspired by an Edgar Allen Poe cemetery walk in Baltimore, started the show in Yarmouth. “Haunted Yarmouth is my baby,” she said.

The outdoor performances in the crisp October air with the scent of fallen leaves and the sounds of snapping twigs underfoot enhances the experience of learning about the people buried at the cemetery, Wahlquist said.

“We get all of our entertainment from flat screens. We’re always looking at our phones. I love film, but this is a different experience,” she said. “You’re outside, walking through a graveyard, but it’s quality theater. You’re engaging all of your senses.”

Wahlquist, who is from the West Coast and spent much of her acting and directing career in Los Angeles before moving to Maine, said she loves that the East Coast is steeped in history. At last year’s stroll, she played the role of a long-departed female dentist.


“You don’t hear about women in history,” she said. “You hear about men and their inventions.”

Each story presented during Stroll Haunted Yarmouth is fascinating, she said.

The youngest actor in this year’s production is 6 and the oldest is in their 70s.

“It’s been incredibly fun and rewarding to connect with actors of all ages,” she said.

On Oct. 26, RRCP will present Haunted Yarmouth at 2 p.m. in its theater for audience members who would have difficulty with the stroll format. That show will also be wheelchair accessible and will have ASL interpretation.

Tickets for all shows are $12-$18 and must be purchased in advance at

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