The “break a leg” phrase is widely known as a safe way to wish luck to an actor, and theatre professionals and patrons are commonly known as a superstitious lot.
It’s unsurprising that many theaters have a reputation for being haunted. The Grand Theater at the SLCC South City Campus is no exception.
“It’s just a grand tradition that every theater has to have a good ghost.” said Grand Theatre community outreach coordinator Kate Rufendr.
Ghost sightings at the Grand began about five or six years ago. Most of the occurrences are reported to have happened in the theatre’s house. There have been no backstage sightings, but actors have reported odd things happing, such as a switch suddenly turning off.
“A theater is always full of fun impressions and fun mistakes because of shadows and lights,” said Rufendr. “Not the theater, ‘on stage’ mistakes, but people mistakenly perceiving that they see things that they don’t.”
South High opened in 1931, and the school’s auditorium was built to resemble a professional theater, complete with balcony. There was major controversy when the high school closed in 1988, and many alumni were heartbroken by the decision.
In 1992, SLCC finished converting the building into the college’s new South City Campus after years of renovation.
“There are always stories of the old students who have come back from the former South High,” Rufendr. “There is a boy and a couple of girls. Some people say that the girl has really light hair, and some people say she has blond hair so it might be the same girl.”
Although there are no theories as to the ghosts’ specific identities, they are believed to be students from South High’s later years.
“There are rumors in the house, like how some chairs would be down as if someone was seated in there but nobody ever really saw anything,” said Rufendr. “There are some seats that people won’t sit in. When we asked them why, they have no answer for it. They just won’t sit there.”
Theater productions create a lot of energy, and according to paranormal professionals there are many reasons why places have ghosts.
“Maybe [the ghost] had some special connection to [the Grand] that it was their happy moment, their happy place,” said Heather S. De’Moreau, lead investor of Paranormal Opps. “One of the main reasons ghost do haunt places is because they do have that special attachment to that location.”
For more information about the Grand Theatre, and maybe pick up tickets to judge the theatre’s paranormal energy for yourself, visit the-grand.org.