In one of the oldest theaters there are also famous ghosts for those enjoying the drama of the stage. In Theatre Royal Drury Lane those working there as well as visitors keep reporting on several ghosts, one of them being the well known Man in Grey.
There is not only one ghost haunting the old Theatre Royal Drury Lane. From the end of the front row in the upper circle to the wall near the royal box, many have claimed to have seen the ghost of W. J. MacQueen-Pope, an English theater historian and publicist.
Also actors are said to have been haunting the stage, like the ghost of the Irish actor Charles Macklin who is haunting the backstage and wandering the halls where he once killed a fellow actor when they argued over a wig. Macklin threw a cane into the actor named Hallam’s left eye and murdered him in what was known as ‘The Green Room’. The murder was considered back then as an accident and he went free, but since then he has been haunted by the place of his crime.
The pantomime actor from the Regency Era Joseph Grimaldi is seen as ‘the father of the modern clown’, and is also said to be a helpful ghost that guides nervous actors on the stage.
There is also the ghost of Dan Leno that you can notice by the smell of lavender, a scent he often wore when alive. He can be mostly heard clog dancing in empty dressing rooms, still practicing without anyone to see.
The Man in Grey
But perhaps the most famous ghost in the theater is the most mysterious one. The Man in Grey is a ghost that appears dressed as a nobleman in 18th century style of clothes. He has powdered his hair, wearing a tricorn hat, with riding boots and a sword. Who this man is, his name and what he does in the theater, no one knows for sure.
Even before they built this theater in this place in 1812, there was another one before and is one of the oldest places for theater in continuous use and was even the place where the first version of the national anthem was sung. Several buildings burned down all the way back to when the original Theatre Royal Drury Lane was built already in 1663.
So its not so strange that ghost stories like about the Man in Grey started being told in the old and murky hallways when the stage light was low and there are no laughter from the audience or lively drama from the stage. And all the legends thinks the ghost of the Man in Grey is the haunting of the skeleton they found bricked up in the walls of the glorious theater.
The Ghost on Fourth Row
In 1848 they did some renovations on the building and according to the legend, they discovered the skeleton of a man who appeared to have been stabbed inside. Builders are said to have broken into a secret room behind the wall that the ghost were always seen disappearing into.
Many have reported about strange things happening in the Theatre Royal Drury Lane, mostly between 10 am to 6 pm. People hear doors being slammed when they are alone in the building. Seeing a fleeting image of a gray man before he disappears into the walls.
The entire cast of The Dancing Years reported seeing him in 1939. One time a cleaner came in and saw him sitting in the fourth row in the Upper Circle and she thought he was an actor. She tried to speak with him, but then he vanished. When she looked around she could see him disappearing into the wall, the same wall where his skeleton was found.
Actor Clive Carter told about a paranormal experience he had in the changing room were the TV kept changing the channel without anyone touching it. It first started when they talked about the Drury Lane Ghost, as if something was being summoned or could hear them very well.
The Good Omen
Who was this man found inside the walls of Theatre Royal Drury Lane though? Only legends live on and many of them tell that the Man in Grey was killed because of a love affair with one of the actresses. He was once called to their usual meeting spot, but on one particular night it was his love rival who waited for him and killed him when he showed up. The murderer later walled up the alcove to cover up his crime.
In contrast to many other ghosts out in the world, seeing the Man in Gray in the Theatre Royal Drury Lane is considered a good omen as sightings of the ghost have been seen before successful theater productions like The King and I, Oklahoma and Miss Saigon.
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