To celebrate the Halloween season, the Nelson Star is exploring various “haunted” buildings in the city. This is the final instalment of a month-long series of interviews with Chris Holland about haunted locations around Nelson.
Late one night, post-performance at Nelson’s Capitol Theatre, a solitary janitor was mopping the stage when he spotted a white-clad figure amidst the expanse of empty seats. He would later report that this mysterious audience member was grinning profusely, and maybe even laughing.
“The janitor shouted out ‘time to go, show’s over’ and right in that moment, as he was looking out at the audience, the figure just sort of evaporated. Poof, it was gone,” the Paranormal League’s Chris Holland told the Star.
“That’s when he realized that what he was seeing was something else. I’m sure he was probably wetting himself in that moment, all alone in this huge theatre, but at the same time the vibe he was getting was positive, joyful.”
And so far all the stories Holland has overheard about the theatre, which was built in 1926, are more on the fun than the freaky side. For instance, there have long been rumours of a “Party Animal Ghost” who revels in the abandoned corridors once the cast and crew have gone home, and takes familial pride in the productions.
Costumes and props disappear from their places only to reappear elsewhere, while some actors have reported feeling like some sort of supernatural presence is toying with them. These are the sort of anecdotes that don’t surprise Holland at all.
“Theatres are always a hotbed of residual energy. They hold a lot of good memories for people. You think back in the day, and the Capitol Theatre was a centre-piece for entertainment in this region.
“You take any place that holds great memories for people, that’s seen multiple generations sitting in the seats, and it’s no wonder that the building retains evidence that they’ve been there and traces of their happiness.”
And according to Holland, the most psychometric energy resides in one spot: the costume department in the basement.
“This is one of those costume departments where, when Grandpa passes on and you’ve got nowhere else to donate it, you send it to the Capitol Theatre. So you have beautiful tuxedoes with tails, or maybe your Grandma’s favourite fur, or gorgeous dresses that women have worn only for special occasions.”
And scientifically speaking, even if their spirits aren’t lingering, there are still traces of their presence embedded in these costumes.
“Anything you loved and wore a lot, not only does it have a map of your DNA, but if you take a snapshot it’s probably the DNA from your happiest moment. Their clothes are now residing beneath the place they loved, so no wonder their psychometric energy is through the roof.”
In his opinion, the costume department acts like a magnet that attracts supernatural phenomenon. So the next time a cast member feels a strange shiver while slipping into a new costume, or feels like they’re being watched by people who aren’t there, perhaps it’s the souls of Capitol lovers who have chosen to haunt one of their most beloved places.
“The Capitol Theatre ghost is a sort of caretaker ghost who is invested in the future of the theatre, and to bringing joy to the community. People get a great feeling from its presence, like it’s more of a party animal ghost that wants everyone to be enjoying themselves.”