With Roman goddess Diana perched atop its famous neon sign and bold art deco styling inside and out, the Vogue Theatre – built in 1941 – is like a little bit of Hollywood Boulevard right on Granville Street.
Originally a proud member of Granville Street’s Theatre Row – back when the avenue was lined with movie theatres and enough neon to be seen from planes landing at YVR – the Vogue is now one of the city’s most popular live music venues.
“Recovering entertainment lawyer” Bill Allman is now a theatre producer with Famous Artists Ltd. Back in the mid-’90s he was house manager at the Vogue Theatre. He remembers clearly his encounter with the theatre’s resident ghost.
Tell me more about your ghost encounter
I was in the process of locking up the theatre and I was alone in the building. While I was downstairs in the carpentry room I was overwhelmed by that feeling that somebody was right behind me. I turned around and saw what I can only describe as a three-dimensional shadow, float past the door.
Creepy. Did the shape have a human figure?
Yes it had a human form, but I didn’t see any features. It was just grey, but also translucent; you could see through it.
Were there other sightings?
A lot of employees saw it. I saw it again myself in the seats about two weeks later. Just long enough to turn my head and see it before it vanished.
Two different witnesses once described it to me within a week of each other. And this was two people that had never met. They both described a young man dressed in light coloured clothing with short dark hair and angular features.
One woman saw the ghost in the projector room, and a performer saw the ghost while on stage during a show. He was one of the cast in Unforgettable, based on the music of Nat King Cole. Halfway through a song, he saw the ghost walk out from under one of the fire exits and then disappear. He was so thrown by it he dropped the cane he was holding, missed his line and stopped dancing.
He finished the song eventually, but he was shaking when I saw him 10 minutes later. He said “you’re not going to be believe what I just saw.” When he told me [his story], which matched the other woman’s account, I got a real chill.
Any idea who, or what, this ghost was?
Because of the places in the theatre where the various sightings happened, we had a strong feeling it was a former employee. Most of the sightings were in the hallway by the dressing rooms, in the catwalk, or in the projection booth.
In fact employees now refer to the hallway running past the dressing rooms as “ghost highway,” there have been so many sightings there.
We did a fair amount of research but were never able to find an account of someone who died in the theatre. I think it’s entirely possible it was someone who worked there, maybe didn’t die there, but had a strong attachment to the theatre and kept coming back.
Have you been back since? Ever seen anything unusual?
I attended a ghost hunt there one night with a psychic who claimed he could see somebody in the theatre, 10 feet from me in the audience. Maybe he did, maybe he didn’t.
There were about 40 or 50 of us who’d come in specifically for this ghost hunt. I think it’s more likely we scared the ghost off than anything.
If you’d like to see what keeps Bill Allman busy these days, you can catch Famous Artists’ production of Bad Jews at the Norman Rothstein Theatre at 41st & Oak from November 10. Tickets at ticketstonight.com.