Her Majestys Theatre - Haunted Theatres

South East Queensland’s Top Haunted Theatres

Theatres are wondrous places, bursting with history. They’re visited by countless people who come and go over the years. These patrons aren’t just members of the audience, but outlandish actors, quirky crew members and eccentric creatives. 

But at the end of the day, when the lights are switched off and shadows creep into the wings, who are the ones who’ve been there the longest, the ones who never leave? Here’s a list of the most haunted theatres that Brisbane, Toowoomba and the Gold Coast has to offer, and their longest staying residents…

Brisbane Arts Theatre, Brisbane City

Strange happenings abound at the iconic ‘Brisbane Arts Theatre’ on Petrie Terrace, Brisbane, and many have long been reported. Some claim the original founder Jean Trundle is often seen before a play’s final rehearsal in the main theatre area. Others have even alleged they were physically moved to a different seat in the gallery, doors closing in the downstairs dressing rooms and white spectres seen in the mirrors. So spooky are these happenings that the theatre has been investigated by Queensland based group ‘Paranormal Paratek’, which had the site shut down and sealed for an overnight operation in 2012. Talk about causing a scene!

Brisbane Arts - Haunted Theatres

Toowoomba Repertory Theatre, East Toowoomba

Home to the Toowoomba Repertory Theatre Society, this theatre used to be a youth detention centre decades ago. A young girl’s ghost now haunts the venue, and cast members are warned not to use the third step on the way to the dressing rooms as invisible hands reportedly reach out and trip people. The land and building the theatre sits on has undergone many changes since the society bought it in 1964, so it’s likely the ankle grabbing third step and the young girl are separate entities.

Toowoomba Repertory Theatre - Haunted Theatres

Schonell Theatre, St Lucia

Another loved Brisbane venue, the Schonell Theatre at the University of Queensland, has a much different ghost – one that appears as a real, lifelike, flesh and blood person, named Sophea. Apparently, Sophea was once seen in an old fashioned dress walking into the dressing rooms and vanishing, with no other entrance or exit than the one she went through. Considerately, the ghoul only appears after patrons leave, says Debbie Haddleton, who handles the venue’s promotion. At least their ghost respects the paying patrons!

Schonell Theatre - Haunted Theatres
Schonell Theatre in St Lucia.

Halpin Auditorium, Benowa

This auditorium in Benowa on the Gold Coast, owned by Spotlight Theatre Company, is said to be haunted by two ghosts, according to production committee member, Matt Pearson. The basement of the theatre is haunted by longtime supporter of the arts Reg Ebbott who tragically died from a heart attack some years ago. “He’s a prankster by nature,” says Pearson. 

More mysteriously is ‘The Grey Lady’ who is often seen sitting in the back row. She is also commonly seen in the background of mirrors. Pearson, who encountered the spectre himself in the ‘greenroom’, claims, “I felt a cold hand on my shoulder, freaked and left….as I walked past the mirror at the greenroom entrance, I didn’t see my reflection. It was the reflection of a pale, old lady”. Spooky Spotlight!

Spotlight Theatrical Company in Benowa.

Her Majesty’s Theatre, Brisbane City (demolished)

A pinnacle of theatre, 193 Queen Street used to be home to Brisbane’s own Her Majesty’s Theatre, before it was demolished in 1983 for today’s Wintergarden complex. Rumours still fly about Her Majesty’s history, including Australian-English artist Jon English experiencing a paranormal encounter while performing in ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’. English reportedly heard singing in the upper balcony, which may have been made by Dame Clara Butt, who was known for being quite a diva. In fact, her ghost may still linger in the Wintergarden complex decades later, with claims of eerie singing inside Strike Bowling being heard to this day…. (This last claim is unfounded, but makes for a fantastic story!)

Her Majestys Theatre - Haunted Theatres
Her Majesty’s Theatre in Brisbane City.

Who can say how long these souls have resided in these venues, or even truly who they are. Does your theatre make our Haunted Theatres list? Regardless, watch your back on your next night at a local theatre; there’s no knowing when you might be sitting next to a frightful ghoul (or sitting on one!).

Special Thanks to Matt Pearson (Spotlight Theatre) for sharing his experiences, and Trent Sellars for research assistance.

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