When I was in school, I was a certified theatre geek. I learned to tap dance for 42nd Street, tango for Evita and belt out a solo in On The Town. I was in every show that would cast me , and when I couldn’t get a part, I was backstage doing hair and makeup or helping with costumes. I loved the thrill of performing, but even more I loved the secret backstage world we all lived in between scenes. The silent communication and rituals that turned us theatre kids from friends into a family.
So when I started to plan the second Alice Jones Mystery (Alice Jones: The Ghost Light) I couldn’t resist setting it in a theatre.
In The Ghost Light, Alice investigates the mysterious goings-on at the Beryl Theater. Her twin sister (and future broadway star) Della and the rest of the cast all seem to think a spirit is behind the trouble. Alice is sure there’s a more rational explanation. But, it’s going to take proof to convince the superstitious cast and crew there are no such things as ghosts.
I had so much fun researching (and remembering) theatre traditions and superstitions to send my characters fleeing into the wings. Here are five of the spookiest ones I found.
5. Never Say ‘Good Luck’
Theatres are full of mischievous spirits who love to be contrary. If you tell someone good luck, the spirits will try to make the opposite happen. Say ‘Break a Leg’ instead, and the spirits will spend the whole show making sure nothing bad happens. (They’re contrary, not clever!)
4. Peacock Feathers are Forbidden
Peacock feathers symbolize the evil eye and must never be brought into a theatre or else they will curse the show. (Other items that might lead to ruin: Real money, real jewellery, wearing blue without silver and mirrors. Watch out!)
3. Close the Theater One Night a Week
A night off for the live actors gives the spirits a chance to perform their own shows, otherwise they’ll get jealous and cause trouble.
2. Graveyard Flowers
On closing night, give the leading lady or director a bouquet of flowers stolen from a graveyard to symbolize the death of the show. (I certainly wouldn’t want to be the one in charge of this job!)
1. The Ghost Light
The Ghost Light is a single bulb that must be on whenever the other lights in the theatre are off. If the Ghost Light isn’t on, the spirits know the theatre is empty and they come out to make mischief.
If you enjoyed these, you can read the first chapter of Alice Jones: The Ghost Light right now. There’s plenty more superstitions, ghostly happenings and a missing diamond necklace as well!