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Live Bait Theatre bringing Esther Cox back to Amherst

Possessed by Esther Cox is being presented by Live Bait Theatre in Amherst and Sackville, N.B. through Aug. 10. Heather MacIntyre as Grandma is shown getting haunted by an Esther Cox doll.
Possessed by Esther Cox is being presented by Live Bait Theatre in Amherst and Sackville, N.B. through Aug. 10. Heather MacIntyre as Grandma is shown getting haunted by an Esther Cox doll. - Contributed

Show features a host of wacky characters and classic hits

AMHERST, N.S. —

Amherst’s most famous ghost girl, Esther Cox, is returning to Amherst this summer.

Live Bait Theatre is presenting Possessed by Esther Cox, a musical dinner theatre which offers a comedic take on The Great Amherst Mystery, from July 22 to Aug. 10. The show features a host of wacky characters and classic hits from the 50s to today.

In the fall of 1878 18-year-old, Amherst native, Esther Cox, was at the centre of a series of bizarre events which would become known as The Great Amherst Mystery; a tale that MacLean’s magazine called, “Canada’s most famous ghost story and a classic Poltergeist case.” Esther was supposedly haunted by a number of ghosts and poltergeist activity was witnessed by dozens of Amherst residents.

Charlie Rhindress wrote Guilty! The Story of the Great Amherst Mystery, a play based on Esther’s story for Live Bait in 1991. The production sold out its entire run, but also brought a series of unfortunate events to the cast and crew, including broken bones, car accidents, illnesses, and power outages. Esther claimed that most of her hauntings were caused by a ghost named Bob and during the play’s run the region was even hit by Hurricane Bob!

“Quite often when people work on projects about the paranormal they seem to attract dark energy and bad luck,’ Rhindress said. “If you look at movies like The Exorcist and Poltergeist, it’s almost like their productions were cursed,” he added. “We experienced the same thing when we worked on the play. After a while whenever something weird would happen, we’d just say, ‘Oh, that’s Esther again.’”

Rhindress and Karen Valanne later wrote Possessed by Esther Cox, a comedic dinner theatre inspired by the story. It premiered at Live Bait in 1996 and did not seem to bring bad luck with it. Rhindress has updated the script and changed some of the songs for this latest production.

In the dinner theatre, Grandma passes out drunk in the parking lot of the Amherst police station, near the spot where Esther Cox's home once stood, and wakes up to find herself possessed by the haunted girl. Heather MacIntyre is back as the ever popular Grandma.

Also returning for this show are the very talented Morgan Grant, James Hand and Carley Varner. Two hilarious young actors, Paul Brisk and Hannah Tuck, are making their Live Bait debuts with this production. Live Bait veteran, Jennie Del Motte will once again musically direct

The show opens on July 22 in Springhill as part of Old Home Week and the 30th anniversary celebrations of the Anne Murray Centre. With support from the Town of Amherst, the show will play at the Community Credit Union Business Innovation Centre in Amherst from July 24-27 as part of the Amherst Performing Arts Series. The show ends its run at the Sackville Legion, Aug. 7-10.

The meal includes a main course (meatballs, salads, etc), dessert and tea or coffee. Tickets are $40 each (taxes included) or $37.50 for eight or more (tickets must be purchased together). Information and tickets are available at www.livebaittheatre.com or by calling (506) 536-2248. Tickets can also be bought at Robert Lyon Graphics in Sackville or Bargain Bennies in Amherst.

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