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Sunday, May 12, 2024

Ana Gasteyer’s Celebrity Ghost Story Is No Laughing Matter [Guide to the Unknown]

They say comedians can shift to dramatic acting relatively easily because making something funny is harder than making it sad, so if you’re in comedy, you’ve clearly got the chops. For Ana Gasteyer, add “making it creepy” to the resume because her stint on Celebrity Ghost Stories is one of its best, partly due to her somber delivery. It’s as unnerving as when Grandma yells at you and when the funky church medley lady from Saturday Night Live gets serious, you pay attention.

And why are we paying attention to a cable TV show from 2011? Kristen and Will of Bloody FM’s Guide to the Unknown discovered that all of Celebrity Ghost Stories is available on YouTube now, leading them to make episodes covering these stories a recurring fave. Are ghosts real? Eh…ya know. Does talking about ghosts rule? We’re swimming in affirmative proof.

Gasteyer’s ghostly encounter took place when she was playing the witch Elphaba in Wicked in the James M. Nederlander Theater in Chicago (then called the Oriental Theater), which she explains is one of the most beautiful theaters in the country with gorgeous ornately carved wood that even featured little monkeys – a perfect Oz-like setting.

During one performance, she was at the climax of the first act, in which she got lifted on wires all the way up to the rafters. While up there, she noticed little groups of people in the wings, which she thought seemed like families standing together. It was unusual, but she didn’t have time to dwell on it.

When she was safely back on the ground she didn’t see those people anymore, but whatever, no time – she needed to get to her dressing room for a bit of rest and makeup touch-up during intermission. Gasteyer explained that to get there, the theater had a labyrinthine set of corridors to go through, turning corners along your way, and at one point, she heard a kid’s voice. She turned and saw a woman with two children in period costume ahead of her and thought, oh, another actor…they seemed comfortable rather than lost in the strange hallways, though with an air of sadness.

After a nod of hello, they turned a corner to continue on their way, and as Gasteyer followed behind, she was shocked to find they were gone. She should have been able to see them down the long hallway, but no one was there.

When she made it to her dressing room, she remarked to her makeup artist that boy, there have been a lot more people backstage lately. And you know what’s coming…the makeup artist said, “Oh! Those are probably people from the fire.”

Gasteyer explained that on December 30, 1903, the Iroquois Theater burned down in the worst theater fire in US history. The theater capacity was 1,600, and about 400 more people were packed into the aisles. Something sparked, and the stagehands dropped the fire curtain, creating a backdraft that made the fire much worse. 600 people died, 200 of them children. The Oriental Theater was built directly over the site of that theater. And ever since, she says, there have been ghost sightings like the ones that Gasteyer experienced, presumably of the families that died in the fire, taking in a show or forever roaming the halls.

Kristen and Will also tell the spooky stories of, in typical Celebrity Ghost Stories grab bag fashion, Wayne Newton, Ace Frehley, and Enrico Colantoni.

To hear what happen to this band of merry, freaked out entertainers, check out this week’s episode and subscribe to Guide to the Unknown on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts to get a new episode every Friday.

The post Ana Gasteyer’s Celebrity Ghost Story Is No Laughing Matter [Guide to the Unknown] appeared first on Bloody Disgusting!.


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