An evening at the theater in Vancouver: Vogue and Orpheum, and the resident ghosts!6 min read
Vancouver is a stunning mountain set city, but in addition it have a lively cultural scene fostered within ornate and historic theaters. Granville Street lies in the heart of Vancouver’s entertainment district and is know as one of two of the most haunted places in town, at least, according to some. And they are both theaters!
One of two haunted theater of Granville Street is the Vogue Theater. This art deco entertainment hub, located in the southern half of Granville Mall, was intended to function as a movie house and was first opened in 1941. The Vogue Theatre made its debut as one of the most significant architectural accomplishments in the city. It was designed by architects Kaplan & Sprachman and took only one year to build. The first screening was of the 1938 British ice-hockey-comedy, I See Ice, but the theatre quickly earned a reputation for one of the best live-concert venues in the city. The first musical performance at the Vogue was than Dal Richards and his band in April 1941. Canadian and international stars of the day were all seen parading across its stage. Dramas and dance numbers, Broadway musicals, and one-man shows were all housed there, and all of the best-known entertainers of the period performed there, displaying their craft to enthusiastic audiences and, rumor has it, some remain to this day.
In 1988, the theatre was closed due to declining business, and It reopened in 1991, after being fully renovated to its original splendour. This included the installation of state-of-the-art lighting and sound systems. Today, the Vogue is a venue for live music performances. The Vogue has hosted events like Vancouver’s ComedyFest, Vancouver International Film Festival and Vancouver International Jazz Festival. The Vogue has been a National Historic Site of Canada since it was officially recognized by the federal government on November 20, 1993.
Even if the Vogue Theatre is old by Vancouver’s standards, perhaps others may consider the building not old enough for ghost stories to take hold. Perhaps people would only believe in spirits finding a home in a place after centuries have passed? Maybe, but it seemed that from the start, odd things have been happening in the Vogue.
The earliest stories were about a young woman who may have been an actress forced to suicide by the rejection of her lover. Pregnant, alone, and unwanted, the young woman ended her life and returns to the theater to haunt the lower dressing room located under the stage. In fact, it seems that wispy, shadowy entities are seen from time to time in the projector room while a strange, dark male image sits in there, sometimes alone, and sometimes with other spectral figures. The smells of alcohol and cigars have also been known to fill the air.
In addition, there are stories of empty chairs filling with misty forms, and distant laughter and applause have also been heard. On more than one occasion, ethereal actors move across the dusty stage. An encore from afterlife?
In addition, according to some, It seems that the most popular of the theater’s spectral inhabitants has also been known to put on another show for a select few.
Many staff members, but also some visitors to the Vogue Theater have claimed to see the ghost of a young man with dark hair and stern-looking facial features. No one really knows the identity of this mystery presence, especially since there have been no reported deaths to occur within the theater. Some have speculated that this man could likely be a past staff member, who still work hard to keep the theater running. This theory is backed by the sightings of thus mystery ghost always being in areas that are restricted to staff only: he has been sighted in the theater’s corridors, projection booth, stage, but also audience seating and upon the catwalks. In addition, many people have heard strange noises coming from the empty theater, they felt suddenly dropping temperatures and even just that general feeling of uneasiness when someone is watching you. Many staff members have had experiences with the ghost: some have felt his presence in the narrow corridor downstairs, and they jokingly refer to this corridor as the “Haunted Highway”, because of its creepiness. From time-to-time, the phantom makes banging noises and slams doors along the corridor.
Not too far from the Vogue Theater there is Vancouver’s Orpheum Theater. Originally opened in November 8, 1927, the Orpheum Concert Hall is one of Vancouver’s best-known live venues. It was designed by Scottish architect Marcus Priteca, It’s decorated inside with a lavish mix of Gothic, Moorish, Romanesque and Spanish Renaissance styles, and in its first few years, it hosted silent movies, vaudeville shows, and song and dance performances. During the Great Depression, however, vaudeville died out. So between 1931 and 1973, the Orpheum was primarily a movie theatre even if It occasionally hosted live shows by such famous performers as Jack Benny and Frank Sinatra.
In 1974, the City of Vancouver bought the Orpheum to prevent it from being converted into a multiplex movie cinema. They closed it the next year for extensive renovations and re-opened it in 1977. Today, audiences flock here for Vancouver Symphony Orchestra performances, rock concerts, and other live shows.
While it is known for playing host to some great acts, many believe there’s another presences inside the theatre, now permanent home of the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra.
The men’s bathroom in the basement may be scary for many reasons, but there have been reports of a ghost of a former attendant haunting those who come down to use the bathroom. He appear to still be going about his duties in the downstairs toilets, and It is said that this spirit gets upset if women enter the bathroom, which is understandable!
Another ghost is that of an upper-class lady who may well be a theater-goer from a by-gone era. She is generally spotted on the upper balconies of the theater, standing and applauding the acts that play there, before vanishing into thin air. In addition, she gives a standing ovation to an unseen performance and then vanishes.
The last ghost came after a fatal accident by an acrobat while on stage performing in a Vaudeville act at the theatre, that saw the unfortunate man fall to his death. It seems, even in death, this particular performer still likes to put on a show. Many people have reported seeing a man standing on stage after hours, or capture a glimpse of the dead acrobat manifesting on stage as a glowing ball of light. But there are no records to confirm this ever happened.
Author’s note: both of theaters are still in operation today. The Orpheum Theater and Vogue Theater each support an array of different acts and have tickets on sale via their websites for upcoming events.
Images from Web.