Old Everett apparently wasn’t in the mood to mingle with the mortals.
The Caine Lyric Theater’s well-known resident spook did not stir in the wee hours Sunday morning as a team of ghost hunters tried to coax him out. From Everett not a peep — no shaking of chandeliers, no opening or closing of doors.
About eight members of the group Wasatch Paranormal Investigators scoured the 97-year-old theater on Center Street — scaling shaky ladders to reach the dusty rafters, squeezing into tight catacombs to call out to the spirits possibility within.
Alas, no Everett, who, despite his low profile Sunday, has over the years established a reputation of tinkering around the old theater, making his presence felt in one way or another.
The story goes like this: Everett was an actor playing the second gravedigger in a production of Hamlet and was getting more laughs than the guy playing the first gravedigger, which was supposed to be the big laugh-getting part. The actor Everett upstaged grew angry, killed Everett in the theater and subsequently used his skull as a prop in the grave scene.
Everett’s body was later found in a dirt hallway running between the theater furnace and boiler room. Everett now reportedly haunts the theater, prowling the catwalks, calling out to rehearsing actors or stage technicians. He’s got his own seat in the balcony, which some have said they’ve seen swivel down on its own. Actors claim the ghost has been heard laughing during rehearsals of Hamlet. The details and factual foundation of the Everett story is sketchy — there’s no evidence linking any of it to the real world — but the tale still sparks wonder and inspires people like Tom Carr and Jessica Stevens.
Carr has been investigating paranormal activity across Utah for 20 years and is WPI’s founder. Stevens is a 20-year-old Utah State University student.
“I think it’s a natural thing to want that thrill, that rush,” said Carr, a Tooele resident. “It’s like riding a roller coaster — you never know what’s around the next bend.”
WPI investigated the Caine in January 2008 and had better success — a drinking fountain turned on and off by itself, a door latched and unlatched on its own.
Ron King, a production director at the Caine, was on hand Sunday morning. As an undergraduate student years ago, he lived for a short time in the theater’s light booth. He heard a noise one night and looked down to the stage where he saw a man standing. He called out to him but received no response. By the time he made his way to the stage, the man was gone. There was no way to get out, King said.
He tells the story with a skeptical smirk but still says, “I believe there’s something going on.”
Several current theater workers said strange stuff happens.
“He just likes to play around,” said worker Chrissy Wagstaff of Everett. Some have seen Everett wearing his brown pants and green sweater.
WPI member Stevens likes the rush but also said she enjoys getting to explore historic places and learning about days gone by.
“I’ve always loved the backstories,” she said.
If you want to believe so bad, aren’t you going to see and hear stuff? Carr was asked.
“I think it’s possible that in our minds we can see things and hear things that really aren’t there, but once you’ve been doing this for awhile you get past it. You develop a skill to tell the difference.”
Also, some encounters are undeniable — several WPI investigators said they’ve had experiences that have blown down their walls of skepticism concerning the supernatural; Carr, a large man, said he was once knocked on his butt by an unseen force at Wendover Air Force Base. “There was no way I could’ve done that myself,” he said. Stevens describes full apparitions she’s encountered.
Ghosthunting is kinda like fishing — sitting around for hours and ending up with nothing to show for it, unless you count having a fun adventure with like-minded friends.
“Are we crazy? Well, we sit alone in the dark and talk to ourselves. Is it fun? It can be a blast,” Carr said.
After the evening, the crew will go home and analyze the audio recordings they made to see if any ghostly voices turn up.
“That’s where the thrill gets me,” Carr said.
As the evening wound down, WPI member Doug Frame said, “I felt something warm move past me.”
He’s primed for that next thrill, which could happen at any moment.
“I wish I would get scared again,” he said.