I had never seen this program before, but watching this episode cracked me up. The stories are fairly run of the mill, but they ham them up MERCILESSLY – even by ghost TV show standards, which is really saying something. In this segment, Ana Gasteyer, who played Elphaba in the Chicago run of Wicked at the Oriental Theatre (which was built on the site of the Iroquois Theatre) discusses her experience seeing ghosts one night during her run, as well as her feelings about “The Alley of Death and Mutilation:” “The alley that the Oriental opens to is one of the worst environments I’ve ever…intuited… in my…. (unintelligible)…always had the gloomiest, darkest, most dismal…it was a terrible, terrible alley. It really was, it felt…terrible.”
A few notes:
– The alley they show is not the real one – the garbage and bums make it look like an alley from a 1980s movie about New York.
– That said, the alley WAS gloomier in 2005, before they revamped it and added lighting around 2007. THis was when they tore up the blacktop – and the original brick underneath – and re-paved it with new bricks. People still get that “terrible” feeling, but it gets a lot more foot traffic now (really, it’s had heavy traffic for years – like Dillinger’s Alley, stories that “no one ever uses the alley anymore” are greatly exaggerated).
– In a fairly common issue with these shows, the ghosts look pretty goofy and seem to come from the wrong period. In this case, they sort of look like pilgrims.
– Clearly, the Oriental didn’t let them do any filming. She talks about the decor a lot, but they show stock footage of brick walls and stuff.
All that said, they get the history pretty well right. They don’t go into MUCH detail about the fire, but, unlike most of the footage, the shots they show of the burned out theatre are real.
The segment starts at around the 4:50 mark. This’ll likely be pulled from youtube eventually, so get it while it’s hot!