Although the Alhambra theatre recently underwent a stunning renovation, patrons can still feel the rich history of the building on its stage and down its hallways. Some can even sense the presence of its ghosts. On the walls hang pictures of former guest stars, such as Cyd Charisse, Sid Caesar and Frank Gorshin, but according to some employees, the spirit of Alhambra’s past is far more extraordinary than a collection of memories and photos, as it should be. After all, the Alhambra is the oldest, continuously running dinner theatre in the country.
According to Box Office Manager Becky Uibel who has been with the theatre for twenty years, two former employees, long deceased, continue to report to work each day. She thinks one of them could be Henry Williams, a maintenance man who passed away several years ago. “It might be Henry who just never stopped coming to work. It wasn’t a scary [experience]. He’s very polite. I’ve never been scared here.” For years, even before Henry passed away, the Alhambra staff encountered spirits. “There’s another one that likes to play with the adding machine,” says Uibel. In the 1970s an employee had a heart attack in the hallway, and she thinks it might be him.
“I was headed past the entrance and turned down the hallway, and the door opened from the theatre to the kitchen. There was a tall man.” But when she went through the door, no one was in the kitchen. Now, she’s accustomed to his presence. “He opens doors for us. We always say ‘hi’ to him when we come to work in the morning.”
Local medium Pamela Theresa, and her partner in paranormal investigations, Steve Christian, recently visited the Alhambra to capture some of these apparitions on film. I joined them as they recorded footage for the season premier episodes of their CW 17 television shows, Medium in the Raw and Local Haunts. What they found was more than a couple of former Alhambra employees.
As we sat in the darkened theatre under the red glow of the table lamps, Theresa announced there were spirits all around us. Pointing to the corners of the room she said, “There’s one there, and one over there.” Her crew was already picking up a lot of EVP (Electronic Voice Phenomenon). “It sounds like shadows if that makes any sense,” she explained.
“There are three who have been here a very long time,” Theresa reported, after a brief silence. Backstage, she said, there was a very tall ghost whose death probably was linked to a breathing complication. “He got right in my face, and he was breathing heavily. I can tell he’s been in the earthbound state for a while.” She could feel a tightness in her chest, an indication of how he died. Is this the same man who suffered a heart attack thirty-something years ago? The tall man in the kitchen who also likes to play with the adding machine? Tune in to Local Haunts to find out.
Mark Berman, head of marketing for the Alhambra, says that the entire experience of going to the theatre has been revamped, from the food to the floors to the bathrooms. But according to many, none of that has scared away the ghosts. Everything has been updated, but the spirits still remain.