The haunting in Kent: Local psychic conducts paranormal investigation at the Kent Stage

Psychic Stephanie Allison looks for spirit activity in the Kent Stage on Friday, August 2, 2013. Photo by Katharine Edwards

Rex Santus

The Kent Stage is older than Scotch tape and canned beer — older than AstroTurf and handheld calculators, too.

That’s almost nine decades of performers and visitors. Some people have even spent their final moments inside the old theater, said Richele Charlton, the building’s assistant director.

Local legend says it’s haunted.

The Kent Stage’s 86-year history began in 1927, when it opened as a silent-film house and vaudeville theater. If walls could talk.

“If you were a ghost, where would you want to be?” professional psychic Laura Lyn said Friday night at one of her regular paranormal investigations at the Kent Stage.

The investigations are often open to the public and allow individuals to conduct their own searches of the theater.

In addition to its storied history, the theater is replete with sprawling passageways and dark basements — perfect, one might say, for spirits still lingering in this world.

For instance, there’s “Woody,” who Lyn said lives just off the stage. He died around Christmastime, and never left the room where his body was found.

There’s also a supposed nameless, “violent spirit” that nests in the corner of a storage basement, tucked behind towers of cardboard boxes and holiday decorations.

Or take “Daniel,” who Lyn said lives in a sectioned-off area beneath the amphitheater. He isn’t a nice ghost, either.

Lyn and Charlton claim “Daniel” once levitated a table, then slammed it to the ground.

“It was one of the most intense experiences I’ve had,” Lyn said. “We’re going to find out tonight if he’s still here.”

Lyn leads paranormal investigations for the Spiritual Insight Ghost Hunting Team of Ohio, or S.I.G.H.T., which is based out of Akron and Canton.

Lyn said she first “tapped in” when she was 5 years old. She began corresponding with a Native American called Spotted Owl, who she says is her “spirit guide.” She’s been working as a professional psychic for 11 years.

“For probably 25 years, I’ve been giving readings and talking to people about spirits most of my life,” Lyn said.

Lyn has led ghost hunts and tours in Kent. At the Kent Stage, she has never “not had an experience,” she said.

Beneath the stage, there is a long hallway packed with stacks of old furniture. Homeless people have broken in before, Charlton said. She said the spirit of a homeless man lives there.

“Are you here, John?” Lyn said. “Can you give us a sign like bumping something or making something move? I’m going to turn off the light for a moment.”

She turned off her flashlight, and the room went dark.

“Is there anybody here with us right now in this area?”

She said she hears something, and we are not alone.

“Can you do that again, please?”

Nothing. Lyn said she doesn’t typically provoke spirits because they aren’t performers.

“I have a belief that if they’re here, they’re probably sad,” she said.

For the next five or so minutes, Lyn tried, as she put it, to help “John” cross over and find peace. He’s homeless, she said, and he has problems with alcoholism.

It’s OK for him to leave this world, she said to “John.” He doesn’t have to be here alone anymore. His loved ones are waiting for him.

But he doesn’t believe her, she said. He’s angry. Some ghosts can’t be helped.

Lyn, however, wasn’t the only ghost-hunter who had psychic experiences that night. Nancy Housley, who attended the investigation with her husband, Dale Housley, said she talked to spirits in the projector room.

“It was my grandmother, actually,” said Mrs. Housley. “[The psychic] said that my grandmother had the gift, and that I have it. She saw my two dogs, too.”

The investigation began at 10 p.m. and lasted until 1 a.m. Tickets were $40.

Lyn said she prefers smaller, intimate groups. She’s had her share of hecklers and doubters.

Even then, she’s managed to convince some non-believers.

“Even the skeptics treat me with respect because I think they know or can tell that I’m being sincere,” Lyn said. “I think they understand that I believe […] what I’m tapping into. This has been my life journey.”

Contact Rex Santus at [email protected].