First, in case you haven’t heard of it, below are some common stories associated with it, and my take on them.
1. Haunted by the ghost of Eva Tanguay. Eva Tanguay was a vaudeville star (Canadian). Details here if you’re interested:
Eva, along with many other notables, appeared at Cohoes Music Hall, and legend has it her ghost haunts the building. My take: why would it? She appeared there once. There is no evidence that anything seriously traumatic happened to her there (other than rumors that she was booed on her first appearance), and she lived for a long time beyond that appearance. She died at 68 in Hollywood. She was considerably poorer by then, but she was another victim of the Crash of ’29…which had nothing to do with any performances at Cohoes. There are a lot of entities in the Music Hall; I seriously doubt Eva is one of them, but that legend is embraced by many.
2. The ghost of a stage manager haunts the stage. Very possible. There is nothing in writing to back this (so much of Cohoes has been destroyed by fires that finding records on anything is a joke). Cohoes initially opened in 1874, and the first show performed was London Assurance. For the centenary reopening in 1974, the show was done again, and supposedly, a stage manager in the wings was killed when a sandbag fell on him. I’ve worked there, and know a lot of other artists and designers who have worked there, and was told a second-hand story about a scenic artist painting the stage who heard a voice tell him “get out”. He got out…his brush was dried to the floor the next morning, so clearly, he got out fast.
For my own experience, I’ve never had anything happen while working onstage, nor have I felt anything from that area. I have never liked the backstage corridor (which is down a short flight of steps and so falls behind where the orchestra pit was), or the dressing rooms, or the area from here on stage right. But likewise, if this is true, I have also never heard which side of the stage the tech was killed on, either.
3. The Black Lady. Nothing definite on this, only speculation: she is dressed all in black, and has an angry look. Some also report a shadowy figure in the balcony. For me: I’ve both heard and seen this apparition. I have only seen her in the balcony, (so I assume she’s the shadowy figure others have seen) and the first landing of the stairs coming down from there on stage left. She has never struck me as angry.
In fact, she was my first bona fide haunting experience there after not having been in the building in years. I was working on Nunsense (the first run, I worked on both) and we were having a production meeting downstairs in the office (this was back in the day when Heritage Artists had the building). The producer asked me to go up into the house and grab the lens off a carousel projector onstage. Thinking nothing of it (yes, I’d been away for years and had forgotten its rather evil reputation) I went upstairs. I came up stage left side; force of habit, since stage right has always made me uncomfortable. The projector was, naturally, on stage right, and as I started to cross the space, I heard footsteps in the balcony. My first thought was, “Who’s here? The actors should all be gone by now; everyone else is in the office,” and I stopped in my tracks, staring into the balcony. It was dark, and I couldn’t see anyone, but the footsteps continued, as if someone were methodically pacing.
That was when I remembered, “Oh…haunted…oh $#(%” and for a moment I froze. Run back downstairs and let everyone see what a chicken I was? Instead, I ran over, grabbed the lens, and shot back downstairs in a blur. No one asked, I didn’t tell.
I would feel her presence several times over the next few productions, and on what I dub The Night From Hell, I would actually see her in the window in the stairwell. That would be the 2nd from the right in the first row of windows.
4. The attic. There isn’t much of one, but again, during Nunsense, myself and another lighting tech were very much into exploring all these legends further. There had already been a few bizarre incidents. In the above pic, the attic is where all those tiny windows line the top; and while I only got a few glimpses into it, nothing was kept there. It’s one of those where you have to walk along beams or fall through insulation. Yeah, no thanks, I’m a little big to risk beam-walking, so I got my peek from the top of the stairs. Sometimes this door was locked, sometimes it wasn’t (although we were told it was always locked, since it wasn’t in use).
The other tech got the key one night, and we were going to check it out before the show. The door was in the back left corner of the balcony. We walked to it together. The tech started to put the key in the lock, at the same time moving his other hand to touch the knob, and the door flew open. The two of us shot over about 15 rows of seats and huddled in the front of the balcony for a good fifteen minutes.
The more disturbing thing about the attic that we found was that the door has a deadbolt. On the inside. Because you’d want to lock yourself in there for…?
This is getting lengthy, therefore I will do the next segment tomorrow or Monday. G’night all!