This is a write-up I thought I had posted years ago. As I prepared this week’s show and wanted to reshare it, I realized that somewhere in the building of Tripping on Legends one of my favorite Boston haunts, and one so important to my history, had been left behind. So, here is the Majestic in all it’s original Massachusetts Paranormal Crossroads glory, unedited and updated. Maybe you know more stories to add to the lore…
There have been many legends and stories that have been circulated about the Emerson Majestic over the years. For every one that is true, there is one that cannot be backed up, and that adds to the mystic of the place. When you walk into the theatre, it’s almost like walking back in time, so it is easy to see how stories can evolve. Add to that the students of Emerson College, one part melodramatic, one part open minded and connected to the paranormal, and you have the beginnings and reinforcement of a legend.
I will not go too much into the history of the theatre, but you can find that out with an easy search on the internet. I will, however, give you some of the legends that are out there before getting into personal accounts. The theatre was built in 1903 and closed several times for different reasons. It was allowed to get rundown and is only now being fully restored to its old beauty. There are many theories as to who might haunt it. One is a little girl, some say old actors and stagehands, and some say the spirit of a mayor that died there.
Now for what we know. Both Jenna and I graduated from Emerson College, and Jenna was a theatre major there, acting and designing. Every theatre major at Emerson must do tech work at the Majestic, and most have experienced something. While there are stories of just backstage and the dressing rooms, the most haunted locations are the sound area and the third balcony.
There is lore at Emerson that if the spirits don’t like a show, they shut the board down. All the other power in the place stays online, including the sound, but the board just goes off. This messes up the cues and generally throws a wrench into the works.
But the third balcony is where the real activity occurs. It was closed some time ago because the seats are too steep, and it was deemed a fire hazard. Back in the day, it was the place where the poor and minority patrons of Boston sat. Seats are often found down when they should be up, and it is tradition for someone to say excuse me if they pass a downed seat because they are blocking the ghosts view. It would take weight to keep them down. Once while Jenna was running lights for a rehearsal, she swung the light back to the balcony and some more seats down then up. When she went to investigate, she found the dust had cleared on those seats as if someone had been sitting there.
One our old roommate, John, was refocusing the lights late one night. He and the director where the only people in the theatre. John started joking with the man he saw in the balcony, thinking it was the director, taunting him that he was doing all the work and to get down. The man called from behind him, and when John looked back up to the balcony, the figure he had talked to was gone.
Read Tripping on Legend’s classic case of the haunted traditions at Session House at Smith College...
The most disturbing story we heard comes from two friends who were working a show together. Steve and Donna were on headsets during the show, one on one side of the balcony, the other on the other side. The headsets were open to all the tech people, including the director and people on the boards. Steve’s voice came over the mic. “Donna, don’t move. There is someone behind you.” Donna was terrified and asked who it was, but she got no answer. She wanted to leave, but everyone kept telling her to stay, until finally she closed her eyes and held her breath. Chairs started slamming up and down in the rows between the two friends and continued until the end of the show.
The man who runs the Majestic admits there are spirits, acknowledging one in particular who he sees as helping rather than scaring. He in renovating the Majestic to bring back its old beauty, and he feels that bonds him the old energies that are there. The balcony is now reopened and will begin seating living people for the first time in decades when the Majestic reopens. How will the old patrons, watching the performances for years, like having their views blocked.
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