April 3, 2008

Ghosts on the Stage: Biddeford City Theater

So, to start off, it was an honor to be invited to the historic Biddeford City Theater during the off season so we could explore. Even though we didn’t find any paranormal evidence of a spirit who refused to move on, just experiencing the deserted theater on a drafty winter day was worth it for us.

We were first given an informative tour by the theater’s only winter occupant, a woman (Andrea?) who worked in the ticket booth. She brought us around the theater, and stopped just before the stage to tell us the story of Eva Gray. It was both tragic and eerie to be in the vacant theater, looking out on the empty seats and visualizing Gray’s young daughter watch as her mother died on stage all those years ago. What’s more eerie though, is the fact that when Gray died she was singing “Good-bye, little girl, good-bye,” definitely a haunting song for the girl to hear while she watched her mother die.

From there we went to the stage, and then, of course, Eva Gray’s dressing room. After her collapse the singer was brought here so the show could finish, but when the stage hands returned to her after the show, she was dead. The peeling white paint on the walls, the frigid draft from the windows, matched with the story we had just been told about the room we were standing in was enough to give all of us the chills.

But we still had more to explore! To get under the stage we had to pass through a stairway of Sharpie made graffiti. It was awesome to see so many people tagging the dimly lit, hardly traveled, area of the rustic theater with their signatures throughout the ages. Of course, Mandy and I had to leave our mark too.

Yet, passing through that, we made it under the stage. With the stage boards above our the dusty air of a decrepit basement all around us, our tour came to an end. Yet with our tour guide leaving to go back to abandoned ticket box, we were given free reign of the theater (except for the Phantom of the Opera-esque rafters.) Of course we jumped on that opportunity and spent the better half of an hour combing through the historic theater, taking as many pictures as possible.

Though our pictures didn’t lead us to Eva Gray, we didn’t really expect it too. Gray can live on in the stories she inspired, since she chose not to live on within our cameras. It was okay that we didn’t catch our ghost though, as we rarely do anyway, since it was apparent that our time in the theater was quickly going to become time to explore and less of a ghost hunt anyway. All in all, being allowed into the theater to explore something so old and historical was a pretty awesome experience for only our second story. Hopefully bigger and better adventures are on the way! I can’t wait for it to get weirder.