A Christmas Carol is, first and foremost, a ghost story. Sure, it’s a tale of redemption, giving, and holiday joy, but if you were to summarize it in the most bare-bones way possible? A Christmas Carol is about a man haunted by four different otherworldly spirits.
But what if there are other spirits lurking in the theater… not just those performed by actors on the stage? What is now the Lederer Theater Center originally opened in 1917, as Emery’s Majestic, a vaudeville theater. As such, there’s plenty of history and no shortage of ghost stories from Trinity Rep’s crew, cast, and staff.
So, in the spirit of A Christmas Carol, here are a few spine-tingling highlights:
The Child of the Dowling Theater
The Dowling Theater, the smaller theater downstairs which will be the home to productions of Tiny Beautiful Things and Sueño in the coming months, reportedly tends to spookier than the Chace Theater, the larger, upstairs theater that will see productions of A Christmas Carol, Gem of the Ocean, and Fairview this season. Staff members frequently find dimes on the floor of the house left side of the theater. Pocket change, maybe, but paranormal enthusiasts believe that dimes are signs of ghosts. Perhaps they’ve been left by the ghostly entity that’s been seen sitting in the back row of the theater, or by the shadow in the shape of a young boy that’s been spotted moving about the space.
Invisible Audience in the Chace Theater
Reported activity in the behind-the-scenes areas of Chace Theater runs the gamut from eerie feelings to disembodied voices and items being moved around. During one production, a member of the crew was tasked with creating ghostly sound effects from under the stage during an on-stage séance, and felt like they were being watched by unseen entities. Others have reported hearing footsteps and their names called while working late at night in an otherwise empty theater.
The Dedicated Actor
It has been witnessed on countless occasions that about half an hour into performances, Trinity Rep’s passenger elevator will run and the doors will open, with no earthly rider inside. Despite regular servicing and inspections, this activity has continued for years. Staff members suspect that this spirit may be of an actor, who only appeared in the second half of a production, so he did not have to arrive until mid-way through the first act of the show. While he has since passed on, he is still making sure he doesn’t miss his cue.
The Blue Lady
As they were getting ready for a show years ago, two staff members watched as the translucent, slightly blue figure of a woman come through a closed door near the Chace Theater and head towards the stage door. “The Blue Lady,” as she was nicknamed, seemed to be looking for someone as she called out a name repeatedly. She was spotted a few more times in the years following.
There are more stories. Many more. As the audience heads home after performances, and the ghost light is set out to illuminate the stage, Trinity Rep’s spirits keep watch over the place they love.