Tom Mix, "the King of Cowboys," will play host to a lineup of voices from the past during a gathering of ghosts at Prescott Fine Art Theatre on Saturday, Oct. 24.
Well, the famed silent western star won't really be there, but his spirit will be in the spotlight during Prescott Ghost Talk as he narrates three separate shows featuring historic paranormal folklore that ghosts, goblins, creatures and apparitions tell and enact to spook the audience just in time for the coming of Halloween.
Mix will tell the tale of his untimely death Oct. 12, 1940, on Arizona Highway 79 near Florence while driving his 1937 Cord 812 Phaeton.
Famous explorer and mountain man, Joseph Reddeford Walker, will rise up from the dead to tell about his close encounter near Granite Mountain. Ol' Mike, the Ghost Dog of Whiskey Row, will appear in a story about his haunting the famous strip. Faith Summers will tell about her demise in the bell tower of the Hassayampa Inn, and "the Lady of the Night," will recount the tale behind her ghostly appearance at Coyote Joe's. Not the least of the apparitions will be Prescott Fine Arts Association's own Sophie, who will return to "lay claim" to her thespian domain.
She is one of three ghosts - the other two are priests - who haunt PFAA, which used to be a Catholic church. This one female poltergeist is "none too happy when she finds the mess left in her theatre by Coyote Joe's Lady of the Night," so she will demand equal time to upstage this woman of ill repute.
The scary evening begins with a spirited violinist and a bewitching tale that three Macbeth witches concoct in the courtyard, and the PFAA crypt keeper will lead those who dare into the haunted theatre to hear the ghost tales.
Another surprise is in store for Ghost Talk attendees - a presentation of "The Buck Stops Here" by the New Mercury Theater players, an old-time radio troupe broadcasting live, make that "dead," from the old haunted KBOO radio station. The original script by Randy Faulkner, member and founder of ensemble, is a creepy story about a drunk deer hunter who kills a fellow hunter while out in the wild and his deadly action haunts him.
Besides the intriguing tale of a hunting expedition gone awry, the audience will get a behind-the-scenes peek at how radio performances make realistic sound effects and see how actors "act with their voices."
At the conclusion of each show, the Prescott Regulators and Shady Ladies will escort audience members to the PFAA Gallery for refreshments and viewing of the current art exhibit.
The Ghost Walk at Sharlot Hall Museum, a tradition of more than a decade, emerged into the Prescott Ghost Talk at PFAA when the museum was unable to continue co-sponsoring with the West Yavapai Guidance Clinic. The clinic had planted the seeds in the beginning and partnered with the museum until it had to step back. Since PFAA had been involved with Ghost Walk, its board and the WYGC Foundation decided to keep the spooky night going and named it Ghost Talk.
"Each year we present a different set of historic ghost stories from the area," said Karen Murphy, director and playwright of this year's Ghost Talk. "If you write the scripts, you get to choose (the ghosts), so each summer I start going through the list of historic ghost stories" that are part of the area's folklore, she said. She had read about Tom Mix and decided he would be "the perfect narrator this year."
"We've got zombies, we've got ghouls, we've got spirits, and we've got creatures this year. So, there's a little something for everyone who dares to enter our haunted theater," she said. "The show is not for sissies, softies, crybabies, fainters, chickens, cowards, yellow bellies, namby-pambies or milksops," Murphy said, with humor. "And, absolutely no whiners are allowed."
Murphy noted that PFAA and WYGC do not intend Ghost Talk for children younger than 7, and adults must accompany all children. Shows will take place at 6, 7 and 8 p.m. Tickets are $10 per person. Proceeds will benefit both WYGC and PFAA. For more information and tickets, call 445-3286 or go to www.wygc.org and click on the Ghost Talk 2009 button.