Rumour has it that among the red seats and dark corridors of the New Wimbledon Theatre supernatural residents roam who reveal themselves to audience members when the spirit moves them.
Those taking this year’s ghost walk might feel inclined to dismiss the theatre’s spectral past as a means to get people into the Halloween spirit – but is doing so wise?
Paranormal investigator and author of Paranormal Surrey, Marq English, says there is a ghost of a chance the rumours might just be true.
Mr English, who is guiding ghost walks on October 31 and November 2, has been the stage door supervisor of the New Wimbledon Theatre for the last decade and can shed light into some obscure tales haunting 93 The Broadway.
“Two years ago I got a call from a lady who had come to see a show the night before with her sister, who was in a wheelchair,” he says.
“Just as the lights were going down in the first act, the lady’s sister, who was right at the end of the row, looked over and saw this big, dark figure staring at her.
“She said it looked like a gentleman dressed as a puritan with a little goatee beard.”
It was ten seconds before the creepy figure faded away, leaving the woman petrified in an oblivious full house.
“There are a lot of stories and a lot of them are very recent,” says Mr English.
Enter stage left, a black unidentifiable form that has been the ghost at the feast for many an audience member since the 1990s.
“Various people, and one lady saw this about three weeks ago, have seen a black shape moving along the corridor towards the back of the auditorium that goes into the Stalls bar.
“I don’t know what that is,” he says.
Moving a level up some might have made the acquaintance of a more recognisable wraith, that of JB Mulholland, the first manager of the theatre in 1910.
Mr Mulholland is said to have the occasional walk on part on the theatre’s haunted scene, appearing in the dress circle to catch a play or watch a rehearsal from the comfort of his usual second row seat.
“There’s rumour that back in the 1960s and 70s people used to see someone sitting in seat B27 in Edwardian dress when the theatre was closed, which got them thinking this might actually be the chap who build it.”
And then there’s the infamous Grey Lady, a mysterious spectre that meanders around the empty space between the stalls and the stage, with the bad habit of sometimes turning on the theatre’s sprinkling system.
“Back in 2010 I brought in mediums and psychics and they picked up the Grey Lady walking around the front of the stalls,” Mr English said.
But the 48-year-old paranormal investigator is too much of a sceptic to be scared.
Coming from a more science-based background, he says he needs solid proof to believe in intangible beings.
“I’m not quite sure they exist because I’ve never seen one, but I’ve had a few experiences, very, very few, that I can’t explain,” he says.
And one of those rare occurrences happened in the New Wimbledon Theatre crew room on a Sunday afternoon.
“We have these hard helmets on a ledge up on the top, it was only me there and one of the helmets suddenly flipped off and fell on the ground.” he said.
“Not only did it fall, but it flipped right up in the air and then fell to ground.
“I just said ‘oh, cheers,’ and carried on doing what I was doing.”
There might be no way of knowing whether these incidents are tricks of the mind or proof of the supernatural, but one thing seems to be certain: in the premises of the New Wimbledon Theatre it is more than once that an actor has been upstaged by a ghost other than Hamlet’s.
This year’s New Wimbledon Theatre ghost tour is sold out, but ghost enthusiasts can hold their breath, as it will be repeated next Halloween.