Reality theater depicts results of poor decisions

By Tracey D’Astolfo

The 99, a walk-through tent show, showcases real-life situations.

A bloody, broken arm dangles lifelessly from a smashed out car window.

Shards of glass are strewn about and pools of blood stain the pavement.

It looks like the aftermath of a horrible car accident, and it’s not pleasant.

But that’s exactly why the creators of The 99 created the very-realistic scene.

The 99 is a series of such scenes, designed to show teenagers the effects of poor decisions. The tent show travels the country to bring its message to as many as possible. It comes to Niles next week for a three weekend run.

The 99 is a walk-through reality theater that focuses on the leading causes of death to young people in the United States. It takes its name from statistics from the National Center for Disease Control that show that every day an average of 99 young Americans die: 31 from auto accidents, 16 from domestic violence or homicide, 12 from suicide, and the remainder from poor choices, disease and natural causes.

The production is housed in a 20,000 square foot air-structure and features 13 rooms, each portraying a real-life situation depicting a tragic ending.

Visitors are given a 45-minute guided tour.

The 99 is not based on fear and scare tactics, but rather on reality, according to its director, Terry Henshaw. It’s billed as “the ultimate near-death experience,” designed to bring young people to a point of decision that can change the course of their lives.

About 20,000 people are expected to visit The 99 in Niles during its three-weekend run. The 99 will be located in the Kohl’s/K-Mart plaza by Route 46.

Tickets will be distributed at the Eastwood Mall leading up to and during the performance, at the Scrappers’ home games leading up to the first production night, through some local businesses and organizations, as well as at the door. Tickets cost $8.

The 99 is a first-come, first-serve production. It runs from 7-11 p.m. each night, but anyone in line before 11 p.m. will be admitted.

Local bands will perform for the people standing in line, and concessions will also be available.

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