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A Ghost In Old San Juan

December 2003

On November 7, 2003 I was in the city of Old San Juan in Puerto Rico, a lovely island in the Caribbean east of the island nations of Cuba and hispanola. That same day the musical "CHICAGO" was opening at the Tapia Theatre. It was the first time that this show was brought to Puerto Rico and my friends were producing it so I bought seats in box #105 and went to the show.

The Tapia Theatre was built in the mid-19th Century and is relatively new for Old San Juan where some buildings date back to the early 16th Century. The old city has a lot of history and has been attacked many times over the years by the British and the Dutch. I suppose it is a good place for ghostly activity.

The show was really awesome. The dancing was excellent, the Spanish language libretto was flawless (unlike the Madrid production) and the orchestra played beautifully. I was in Box #105 with two friends who were visiting from New York. We were enjoying the show and nothing unusual happened until after the intermission.

Box 105 had six seats in it and we occupied the front three seats while the three in the rear were empty. The only entry into the box was through a private wooden door that only we were allowed to use.

Shortly after the intermission ended and the second half of the show began I turned away from the show to say something to my friend. When I did that I noticed a woman sitting behind us in the box. She was peering over our shoulders at the show. She wore her black hair up and was wearing a white gown in a style resembling those worn by women in the early 20th Century (@1900-1908). She looked stout and middle aged. At first I thought that this person must be, like me, a friend of one of the producers and I turned to greet her. As I turned fully around to do that her eyes turned from the show to look at me and within a second she vanished right before my eyes. She simply "popped" out of existence. My mouth was frozen in the middle of forming my greeting in Spanish ("ho...").

"Hola" indeed! I managed to keep my cool (one does not have hysterics in a box at the Tapia Theatre) but I barely managed to keep my voice low as I explained to my friends why I had nearly jumped out of the box.

Nobody else saw her but my friends were supportive. I wish they had seen her. I don't know who she is. I only know she is dead, a woman, and wears clothes that are at least 100 years out of style. I have no explanation other that she must have wanted to see the show.

That is my story. It doesn't have an explanation. I guess you know a show must be good if the dead are coming back to see it!

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