Ghosts at Proctors? Who would have thought?
Actually, Marilyn Sassi didn’t think it was such a crazy concept. Director of tour guides at Proctors and an expert on Colonial New York history, Sassi is one of the organizers of Proctors’ Psychic Fair on Saturday.
“I put on my thinking cap, started looking into it, and before you knew it we had 18 ghost stories we could talk about,” said Sassi, the museum curator at the Schenectady County Historical Society from 1980-87. “It was amazing. The stories just started piling up.”
WHERE: The Mainstage at Proctors
HOW MUCH: Free
MORE INFO: www.proctors.org
All tours are currently full. Check in at the table in the arcade on the day of the event to see if any spots open up due to no-shows.
After Proctors hosted the League of American Theaters National Conference in July of 2011, marketing director Richard Lovrich suggested creating a ghost tour for the theater.
“Richard had been talking to some of the other people in for the conference, and he mentioned to me, ‘Couldn’t we do a ghost tour at Proctors?’ ” said Sassi. “Well, I already knew of one wonderful story so I knew there had to be more. But how many we came up with was incredible.”
The ghost tour portion of Saturday’s event is free and is already filled, according to Sassi. The tours, which will include some special effects from the Proctors’ stage crew, are held in the main theater and run for 45 minutes.
“We took reservations last year because we couldn’t have people just walking in halfway through,” she said.
“It filled up quickly for this year’s event, but there are always a few no-shows, and sometimes we squeeze a few more people in. And that’s why we wanted to add the Psychic Fair this year. We wanted to give people something to do other than just the tour.”
WHERE: GE Theater at Proctors
WHEN: 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. Saturday
HOW MUCH: $10
The Psychic Fair will cost $10, and will be held in the GE Theatre and the Fenimore Gallery. Albany’s Ann Fisher, a psychic, hypnotist and ghost hunter, will be among those making presentations on Saturday. Her talk will begin at 2 p.m.
Magician and storyteller Cory Haines will perform at 1 and 3 p.m., and mentalist Michael Anthony Russo will present “The Joy of Palm Reading” at noon. Author Marilou Trask-Curtain will talk about “Heavenly Communications and Near Death Experiences,” at 11 a.m., and Swami Sadashiva Tirtha will present “Spiritual Science” at 10 a.m.
Others included in the Psychic Fair will be professional psychic and tarot reader Shanon Wadingham, spiritual counselor and transitional life coach Rev. Denise M. McKee, tarot reader Rev. Corbie Mitleid, psychic medium Irene Crewel, intuitive psychic reader Betty Ann Petkovsek, and psychic and animal communicator Coryelle Kramer.
“It’s amazing the hard work and support our staff here has provided,” said Sassi.
“The volunteers were very happy with the ghost tour last year, but it was free and we thought it’d be a good idea to do something as a fundraiser. So, we decided to keep the ghost tour free, but then throw together something very special and charge $10. There’ll be a lot going on Saturday so we think it’s a great opportunity for people to get together and learn more.”
As for the ghosts, she would only provide a little tease. One of them tells the story of Azzy, short for Asbestos, a tawny part-German shepherd who hung out backstage during the 1930s and became friendly with the likes of Red Skelton, Guy Lombardo, Fats Waller and Duke Ellington. Azzy died in 1939.
“There’s a fabulous story about the Proctors mascot, a dog named Azzy, and we also talk about the ghost of a lion that was here once,” said Sassi.
“A lot of these are recent stories that we learned from Proctors staff still working here. We have people in the executive office, people in ticket sales, and our tech and housekeeping crews that all have these amazing stories.”
There’s also the story of a stagehand who was working alone one day and saw a woman walking through the theater wearing clothes from the 19th century.
“He was terrified because he didn’t know who she was, and he also didn’t want to talk about it,” said Sassi. “But then he was shocked to learn that several of the crew had also seen her.”