Centennial ghosts shun publicity
Wednesday October 31, 2001
Legends of ghosts at Centennial Hall swirl like mist on the empty stage. Sightings of supernatural apparitions and reports of unexplainable noises have occurred for as long as many employees of the theater can remember. Up until two years ago, ghosts were very active at Centennial Hall and not shy in letting their presence be known.
Custodians, stagehands and other employees working at the theater during odd hours have reported out-of-the-ordinary phenomena, such as a basketball seen bouncing on the stage with no one present, or a ghostly figure sitting on the catwalk in an empty theater. There are reports of pianos playing by themselves, the sound of a horse whinnying on stage and a woman crying.
The ghosts were so comfortable with their Centennial gig that they had favorite places where Centennial staff typically spotted them, such as in the balcony by the lighting booth.
Artist Relations and Audience Services Manager Patrice Kennedy, who is in her sixth year working for Centennial, experienced two encounters with the theater's supernatural guests. Both instances occurred when Kennedy was alone at the theater.
On a Sunday morning at Centennial, Kennedy heard sounds of a conversation in the lobby. Suspicious, she ran to the hall but saw no one. On another occasion, Kennedy glimpsed a young man on the stage when she was certain she was alone. The apparition was dressed in all black, as a typical stagehand dresses.
"As I looked up, he seemed to notice that he'd been seen, so he ducked through a doorway onto the stage," Kennedy said. "I was a bit anxious because I knew no one was here but me, but I ran after him. Of course, there was nobody around."
However, all ghost sightings ceased two years ago after KOLD-TV Channel 13 News ran a story about the hauntings.
"They didn't like the publicity, I suppose," Kennedy reasoned.
Kennedy recently talked to the custodial staff at Centennial, who typically work the often-lonely night shifts. None have reported any unusual activities since that time.
Perhaps the cameras were too much or the ghosts crumbled under the pressure of live television.
"It has always been going on, and then it just stopped," Kennedy said.
Little is known about the ghosts' pasts- whether the haunters are former performers, ushers, light technicians or custodians. Many conjectures exist, but none are proven. Perhaps a diva was humiliated on stage and remorsefully haunts the site of her failure. Or a stagehand loved his work in theater so much, he went beyond the old adage "until death do us part," and made Centennial his final resting place.
Although the ghosts have been invisible for a few years, there is no reason they will not return. It could be at the next jazz concert or Broadway show that the empty seat up in the balcony is mysteriously occupied by a frigid guest.