Charming ‘Catch’ Could Use a Charge

At sixteen, Frank Abagnale, Jr. began the path to becoming one of the greatest con men of all time.  Posing as a pilot, a doctor, and a lawyer, he bilked the country out of nearly $2,000,000.  Finally cornered by the dogged FBI agent determined to capture him, Abagnale decides to tell (and sing) his story in Catch Me If You Can:  The Musical by Terrence McNally with music by Marc Shaiman and lyrics by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman.  It is currently playing at the Bellevue Little Theatre.

McNally’s script is a mixed bag.  It does a fine job of highlighting Abagnale’s life and his most notable impostures and I think sharing this might have been enough as his life had enough drama and natural humor for a great story.  Where the script falters is when it tries to needlessly force humor into the story such as making the FBI agents with the exception of Hanratty seem like inept fools.  Kudos to Matt Karasek, Randy Wallace, and Jackson Hal Cottrell for a superb job of playing the characters as written.

D. Laureen Pickle does an admirable job of directing this piece. The staging is well done, seeming more like a sixties sitcom and full performance space is used in telling this story. She found some great beats to add some heart to this story especially in the conversations between Abagnale and his father and she has guided her actors to solid and moving performances.

The ensemble does fine work supporting this story as they were clearly enjoying themselves and really helped to flesh out crowd scenes and provide some snappy dancing courtesy of inventive choreography provided by Kerri Jo Watts and Eastin Yates.  That being said, I did note a couple of points where the execution of the dancing needed to be a bit cleaner.

Some great supporting performances are provided by Kevin Olsen as Frank Abagnale, Sr. who was a minor league con man that taught Junior everything he needed to know about running a scam.  Olsen’s Abagnale, Sr. is quite pitiable as the purpose for his cons is simply to provide a better life for his family, though he does seem to derive a pleasure out of outsmarting the government.  Heather Wilhem is marvelously entertaining as an Atlanta housewife who is quite taken with the smooth Abagnale, Jr. who wishes to marry her daughter.

Thomas Stoysich gives a rather entertaining performance as Frank Abagnale, Jr.  He is a very likable and charming person and these traits are crucial to being a good con artist.  Stoysich is so darn likable that you don’t want to believe that he’s really a crook.  Stoysich also adds a remarkable emotional depth to the performance as he portrays Abagnale’s con artistry as a compulsion.  He can’t seem to help himself.  Stoysich does good work in showing the three reasons why Abagnale does what he does:  1.  He’s trying to survive.  2.  He hopes to earn enough to reunite his broken family.  3.  It’s fun.

Stoysich also has a very pleasant tenor voice which was well utilized in “Live in Living Color” and his attempt to end Abagnale’s story prematurely in “Goodbye”.

Eric Micks is rock solid as Carl Hanratty, Abagnale’s determined pursuer.  This is a man who is completely dedicated to his job and that came at the cost of his own family.  Micks gives Hanratty intelligence and tenacity, but he also gives him a haunting loneliness.  The job is all he has, even spending the holidays by himself except for an annual phone call from Abagnale with whom he shares a sort of friendship in spite of their adversarial relationship.  Micks also possesses a fine baritone shown when he tries to discover “The Man Inside the Clues” as he investigates the crimes of Abagnale.

Chris Ebke and his orchestra do justice to the score of the show with an energetic performance.  Nancy Buennemeyer’s costumes suit the sixties settings especially with the pilot and flight attendant uniforms of the time as well as the elegant clothes for Abagnale and the rumpled suit for Hanratty.  Joey Lorincz does it again with another stellar set with a stairway lit by runner lights and a pair of revolving doors for speedy entrances and exits while locales are projected behind the stairs.

This show badly needed doses of energy and volume last night.  The volume was especially important with the orchestra situated behind the cast as I lost bits of dialogue at various points.  There also seemed to be something up with the microphones as they didn’t seem to work except for a brief burst towards the end of Act I.  Part of the energy issue came from an audience not giving the cast much to work with.  In a show like this, the cast needs the fuel supplied by a lively crowd to further heighten their own performances.  Cue pickups could also be tightened to help the energy.

When all is said and done Catch Me If You Can is a slightly surreal telling of Abagnale’s story.  It’s got the potential to be a great crowd pleaser thanks to a talented crew and a spritely orchestra and a “Strange But True” story.

Catch Me If You Can:  The Musical plays at Bellevue Little Theatre through Sept 29.  Showtimes are Fri-Sat at 7:30pm and Sundays at 2pm.  Tickets cost $20 for adults, $18 for seniors, and $10 for students.  Tickets can be obtained at or calling 402-291-1554.  Some discretion is advised due to some strong language and suggestive moments.  Bellevue Little Theatre is located at 203 W Mission Ave in Bellevue, NE.

Lead On, “Ladies”

Two broke, out of work Shakespearian actors hatch a plan to steal an inheritance from a wealthy old maid by pretending to be her long lost nieces.  Wrenches start to get thrown into the plan when the two cross dressing con artists fall in love with a pair of women and word comes that the real nieces are on their way.  This is Ken Ludwig’s Leading Ladies currently playing at the Omaha Community Playhouse.

Ludwig is a masterful writer who knows all the ins and outs of good farce.  You’ve got the slamming doors, the over the top characters, the mistaken identities, and the ludicrous scenarios.  But Ludwig also adds a story that has got quite a bit of heart and includes a couple of surprising plot twists before the tale ends.  His terrific script is supported, nay, enhanced by a sterling cast that runs like a well oiled machine and obtains the maximum amount of yuks possible.

Jeff Horger paints a beautifully funny picture with his direction.  He clearly has an excellent grasp on farce with his use of broad, comedic strokes on the canvas.  Horger’s staging is top notch with his actors constantly moving about the performance space and his sight gags are completely organic and always apropos to the situation.  He’s also led his actors to strong, humorous performances and they made nary a misstep throughout the production.  Horger’s use of a melodramatic score composed and arranged by Vince Krysl is a positively inspired touch.

The supporting cast provides an excellent foundation for the comedy as each has developed a unique, zany character with his or her own particular quirks that brought vivid life to this world.  This includes Catherine Vazquez as a not overly bright waitress who builds a more complex vocabulary one word at a time, Sue Mouttet as the acid tongued matriarch with a heart of gold, and especially Don Harris and Christopher Scott who provided me with some deep belly laughs as the inept and lusty Doc Myers and his dopey son, Butch.

Will Muller stuns with his portrayal of Rev. Duncan Wooley.  With his unyielding posture, monotone voice, and limited, robotic movements, Muller has crafted one of the funniest characters I’ve seen in quite some time.  Muller’s Wooley may be a man of God, but he isn’t very likable as he is a stick in the mud’s stick in the mud who never wants to have any fun, plans a dull, businesslike wedding, and schemes to do God’s work using his fiancée’s wealth.  Muller is at his comedic best when his buttons get pushed to the point where his emotions finally explode out of him.

Victoria Luther is absolutely darling with her interpretation of Meg Snider, Wooley’s fiancée and heiress to a large fortune.  In many ways, Ms Luther is the glue of this cast as her character fuses the play’s unreality to its reality.  She is the most natural character in the show and brings a bright vibrancy with her character’s love of theatre and life.  Ms Luther shows impressive versatility as she easily switches from believable, grounded moments to over the top reactions when the need arises.

As important as the other characters are, the heaviest burden of this show lies on the shoulders of its “leading ladies” and the burden is well and ably carried by Kevin Goshorn and Michael Judah making their Playhouse debuts.

Michael Judah arguably does the most heavy lifting with his rendition of Leo Clark.  Clark is not only a sucky, over the top actor, but he is always on and has a mouth with an inexhaustible energy source.  Judah’s energy is unbelievably phenomenal as he rises to the challenge of this role with a feat of skillful overacting that would make John Carradine proud.  How he maintains that energy without collapsing is beyond me as he easily transitions from the theatrical Clark to the equally over the top “Maxine”.  Yet the over the topness of the character still seems completely natural.  It’s as if Clark doesn’t know how to just be himself until he falls in love with Meg and FINALLY drops his defenses and is able to engage in some lovely softer moments with her.

Kevin Goshorn’s Jack Gable is a worthy sidekick to Leo Clark.  Goshorn marvelously plays the loyal friend who gets caught up in Clark’s machinations.  Forced to impersonate Stephanie, the deaf and dumb niece, Goshorn has stupendous facial expressions and body language as he invents his own sign language to communicate with others and is especially amusing when he uses that sign language to tell “Maxine” he’d like to throttle “her”.  But he’s no shrinking violet.  As decent a person as Gable is, he isn’t above worming hugs out of the lady he likes or standing up to Clark by manipulating him to become “Maxine” just to screw with him.  Goshorn also gets the play’s funniest moment when he tries to bait Wooley into seducing him in order to help Clark get Meg.

The Snider estate, designed by Steve Wheeldon, is absolutely gorgeous with its soft blue walls and fancy double doors.  John Gibilisco’s sounds almost become extra characters with Clark’s idea moments and Meg’s entrance theme.  Amanda Fehlner’s costumes are extremely elegant, especially the gowns worn by Ms Luther, Judah, and Goshorn.  Darin Kuehler’s properties, especially the furniture, really liven up the stage.

This is the type of show that’s sure to take you out of yourself for a little while.  It’s not only laugh out loud funny, but it’s also got just the right touch of warmth and heart.

Leading Ladies runs at the Playhouse through May 7.  Showtimes are Wed-Sat at 7:30pm and Sundays at 2pm.  Tickets are $36 for adults and $22 for students Thurs-Sun.  Wednesday show tickets are $28 for adults and $18 for students.  For tickets, contact the box office at 402-553-0800 or visit or  The Omaha Community Playhouse is located at 6915 Cass St in Omaha, NE.

‘Leading Ladies’ is Next on OCP’s Mainstage

Omaha, Neb. – Leading Ladies, running April 14 – May 7, 2017 in the Hawks Mainstage Theatre at Omaha Community Playhouse, is a hilarious comedy by Ken Ludwig.

The story centers around two English Shakespearean actors, Jack and Leo, who find themselves so down on their luck that they are performing “Scenes from Shakespeare” on the Moose Lodge circuit in the Amish country of Pennsylvania. When they hear that an old lady in York, PA is about to die and leave her fortune to her two long-lost English nephews, they resolve to pass themselves off as her beloved relatives and get the cash. The trouble is, when they get to York, they find out that the relatives aren’t nephews, but nieces! Romantic entanglements ensue, especially when Leo falls madly in love with the old lady’s vivacious niece, Meg, who’s engaged to the local minister.

Award-winning playwright Ken Ludwig is known for such comedies as the Tony Award-winning Lend Me a Tenor, the Tony Award-winning Crazy For You, Moon Over Buffalo and Shakespeare in Hollywood. Leading Ladies falls right in line with his other titles, where cross-dressing, impersonating and falling in love lead the way.

Production:        Leading Ladies

Credits:                Book by Ken Ludwig

Director:              Jeff Horger


Michael Judah as Leo Clark

Kevin Goshorn as Jack Gable

Victoria Luther as Meg Snider

Catherine Vazquez as Audrey

Don Harris as Doc Myers

Sue Mouttet as Florence Snider

Will Muller as Duncan Wooley

Christopher Scott as Butch Myers/Frank

Show Dates:       April 14 – May 7, 2017 (Wednesday – Sat at 7:30pm, Sun at 2pm)

Tickets: At the OCP Box Office at 69th & Cass, by calling (402) 553-0800 or online at or Single tickets are $36 for adults and $22 for students (Thursdays – Sundays) and $28 for adults and $18 for students (Wednesdays). Tickets for groups of 12 or more are $24 for adults and $16 for students (Thursdays – Sundays) and $20 for adults and $14 for students (Wednesdays).

Twilight Tickets – A limited number of tickets are available at half price after noon the day of the performance at the Box Office. Cash or check only. Subject to availability.

Wednesday Performances – Discounted tickets are available for Wednesday performances only at $28 for adults and $18 for students

Whatta Deal Wednesday–Discounted tickets for $10 will be available for the first Wednesday performance on April 19, 2017.  $10 tickets will be available in person at the box office starting at 4pm the day of the show.

Sponsored by:   Carter and Vernie Jones

Location:  Omaha Community Playhouse, 6915 Cass St in Omaha, NE



Taut, Tense ‘Mauritius’ a Gripping Tale of Mystery and Intrigue

From left to right:  Chris Shonka (Sterling), Alissa Walker (Jackie), Karl Rohling (Philip), Will Muller (Dennis), Julie Fitzgerald Ryan (Mary)

From left to right: Chris Shonka (Sterling), Alissa Walker (Jackie), Karl Rohling (Philip), Will Muller (Dennis), Julie Fitzgerald Ryan (Mary)

What is the value of two little pieces of paper?  Is it intrinsic?  Financial?  Sentimental?  Whatever the worth, these two little pieces of paper bring out the worst in people in Mauritius, the Omaha Playhouse’s 91st season premiere.

Theresa Rebeck’s script is a nice, modern take on the crime noir genre.  While mostly dialogue driven, the words have a sharp, crisp energy that immerses the audience and makes one lose track of time though the ending is a bit overlong.  Most intriguing is the fact that Rebeck often makes innuendos about what happened in the past to these characters, but leaves it to the audience’s imagination to determine what may have happened.  Sometimes this technique works well such as the reasons for a mysterious grudge between two characters and not so well at other points such as the lack of explanation for a character’s knowledge of a trick involving duct tape and a plastic bag.

Jeff Horger, making his full directorial debut at the Playhouse, and Assistant Director Nick Albrecht have done exceptional work in guiding this mystery story.  The action slowly builds, beat by beat, growing ever tenser until the play’s climax and denouement.  Horger and Albrecht have also done a fine job shaping the performances of their quintet of actors.

Alissa Walker strikes gold in her Playhouse debut.  As Jackie, the younger of two half-sisters, Ms Walker paints a tragic picture of an emotionally dead woman who wants nothing more than to escape her wretched life and be reborn into a better one.  Jackie believes this new life can be bought with a lot of cash and stakes a claim to an album of rare stamps, hoping to sell two Mauritius stamps and be set for life.

Labeled as a lamb by another character early in the show, Ms Walker’s Jackie is anything but.  She is so eaten up by anger that she has nothing left to give emotionally.  Ms Walker skillfully demonstrates this state with a flat, controlled, nearly emotionless tone of voice.  However, her character’s anger does become more volatile when she senses that her dreams of Easy Street may be threatened such as wrecking her late mother’s living room and punching out her half-sister. Ms Walker’s Jackie is also a survivor which has given her a surprising strength and confidence mighty enough to go verbally, intellectually, and physically toe to toe with a dangerous criminal determined to get her stamps.

As good as her performance was, Ms Walker does need to keep up her projection which weakened a bit in Act II.  She also needs to watch her positioning as she upstaged herself on a couple of occasions.

Julie Fitzgerald Ryan is wonderful as Mary, Jackie’s much older half-sister.  She escaped from a bad home situation when she was 16 and has finally returned home to ostensibly pay last respects to her and Jackie’s late mother and attempt to build a relationship with Jackie.  While an element of those sentiments may exist, Mary really wants the stamp book which she says was left to her by her grandfather.

While Ms Walker’s Jackie is almost devoid of emotion, Ms Fitzgerald Ryan’s Mary is almost afraid of it.  Mary also bottles up a lot of anger, but Ms Fitzgerald Ryan has her attempt to ignore it by being overly solicitous and friendly instead.  But her true feelings often explode out of her as she constantly clashes with Jackie over their mother and what to do with the stamps.  But each time she explodes, she catches herself and tries to smother it with more attempts at solicitude.

What I truly enjoyed about Ms Fitzgerald Ryan’s performance was how subtle she made Mary’s true nature.  You may think she’s a nice person.  She isn’t.  Mary is incredibly selfish as she will not share the stamps with Jackie.  Her love of the stamps for their sentimental value is equally as powerful as Jackie’s greed and those motivations coupled with tremendous chemistry with Ms Walker made for some powerful confrontations.

Will Muller is perfectly cast as Dennis, the con artist.  With his babyface and velvet smooth voice, how could you not trust him?  Dennis is the one who first learns of Jackie’s Mauritius stamps and concocts the scheme to get them from her.  Interestingly, Muller gives his con artist a shocking bit of honesty and sincerity.  He is not out to steal the stamps from Jackie.  He merely wants to get them for as low a price as possible so he can profit more from a resale.  Muller’s easygoing, laconic delivery made his Dennis a very enjoyable watch, but he does need to increase his volume.  He was very soft-spoken in the first act, though he did pick up the volume in Act II.

Chris Shonka radiates menace and danger as Sterling.  Sterling is a wealthy criminal who loves collecting stamps despite having no knowledge of philately.  Be wary for he is not one to be trifled with.  What Sterling wants, he gets, and he has no qualms about using threats and violence to get what he wants.  Shonka’s awesome physical presence combined with a venomous delivery from his rich bass voice made his Sterling a beast to be feared and a force to be reckoned with.

Sterling’s love of stamps borders on the creepy and lewd.  He almost seems to view stamps as virgins as he loathes it when they are touched by others and describes his viewing of the Mauritius stamps as a post-coital experience.  The only critique I can make is for Shonka to go even further with Sterling’s nearly lascivious love of stamps.

Karl Rohling is a misanthropic grump as Philip.  He is the only character in the play who is a true philatelist, but even his love of stamps has faded as he has grown fed up with evaluating the worthless stamps of others.  Philip is a wonderfully multilayered character and Rohling deftly peels off the many layers of Philip like a snake shedding skins.  Starting off as rude and obnoxious, Rohling shows these traits to be mere symptoms of the fact that Philip is a broken, haunted man as the result of Sterling being involved in the dissolution of his marriage.  With a slump of his shoulders and a whiplash change in delivery, Rohling shows the deep sadness of Philip.  Later he is given the opportunity to show Philip’s vengeful side when he engages in a game of intrigue against Sterling and eventually indulges in unmitigated joy when his love of stamps is reignited.

Jim Othuse’s collectibles shop set is simple, understated, and pitch perfect.  Combined with Darin Kuehler’s wonderful properties, it becomes a thing of beauty.  Amanda Fehlner’s costumes are well suited to the characters’ personalities.

The fight scenes could use a bit more rehearsal as the actors seemed a little hesitant and unsure which resulted in the brawls looking a little unrealistic and overly controlled.  However that confidence will come with more practice and performances.  I also thought that the age difference between the two actresses may be too disparate for them to believably be half-sisters, but the quality of their performances made this a fairly negligible issue.

Mauritius is an excellent, well paced mystery story that should enthrall the audiences and I foresee a successful run, especially as this group has built a strong foundation from which they will continue to evolve over the next few weeks.

Mauritius runs at the Omaha Community Playhouse through September 13.  Showtimes are Thurs-Sat at 7:30pm and Sundays at 2pm.  Tickets cost $35 for adults and $21 for students.  Tickets can be obtained at or call the Box Office at 402-553-0800.  The Omaha Playhouse is located at 6915 Cass Street in Omaha, NE.  Mauritius contains strong language and violence and is not recommended for children.

Crime Drama to Open Omaha Playhouse’s 91st Season

Mauritius by Theresa Rebeck

August 14-Sept 13, 2015

Absorbing and suspenseful, Mauritius is a fast-paced dark comedy of the thrilling world of philately (stamp collecting). When two half-sisters inherit a potentially valuable stamp collection upon their mother’s death, differing views on what to do with the stamps lead them to risky situations with nefarious characters. Propelled by a tight plot and quick dialogue, Mauritius will keep you on the edge of your seat.

Contains strong language and violence

Tickets go on sale August 4.  Contact the Box Office at 402-553-0800 or toll free at 1-888-742-4338 for details.  The Omaha Playhouse is located at 6915 Cast Street in Omaha, NE.  Showtimes are Thurs-Sat at 7:30pm and Sundays at 2pm.

Directed by Jeff Horger


Jackie – Alissa Walker

Dennis – Will Muller

Philip – Karl Rohling

Sterling – Chris Shonka

Mary – Julie Fitzgerald Ryan

Eureka, Ho!!!, Days 4 & 5: Sailing, Solitude, and the Supernatural

After another full night of sleep, I was ready to attack a new day. . .right after breakfast.

Fruit Smoothie

Fruit Smoothie

Oat walnut pancakes and turkey bacon

Oat walnut pancakes and turkey bacon

Orange butter sauce for the pancakes.

Orange butter sauce for the pancakes.

Today’s meal began with a delicious fruit smoothie followed by a main entrée of oat walnut pancakes with orange butter sauce and turkey bacon.  I rank this meal as one of the three best that I’ve eaten since I began this project.  There wasn’t much time to relax after breakfast because I had to get out to Beaver Lake so I could take a cruise on the Belle of the Ozarks.

Belle of the Ozarks

Belle of the Ozarks

Beaver Lake is a 35,000 acre lake and popular for swimming, scuba diving, boating, and fishing.  It also has a reputation as a world class striped bass fishing spot so I’ll be certain to alert my angler of an older brother as that would get him and his brood down here, lickety split.

It was a perfect day for a cruise, but I would recommend a microphone or bullhorn for the skipper because it was very difficult to hear him over the roar of the boat.  He did have a couple of tales which made for interesting listening.

The first was when we passed a marker.  Allegedly, it is a magical spot and if one plunks a penny by the marker, his or her wish will come true.  I drilled the marker with my penny, so let’s see if my wish comes true. . .

25 feet below that marker is a submerged mountain.  Allegedly this spot is magical and has the power to grant wishes.

25 feet below that marker is a submerged mountain. Allegedly this spot is magical and has the power to grant wishes.

Soooo, moving right along, the marker actually held a purpose.  Twenty-five feet below the marker was a submerged mountain and on that submerged mountain was a submerged house.  It was a pity that both were unable to be seen.

The other story was about the value of land around the lake.  He pointed out an island that had some ritzy homes on it.  He said the owner had bought two half-acres which cost $177,000 each.  He said that news put a smile on his face because 25 years ago he had bought 70 acres of lakeside property for a song.  I’ve crunched the numbers for you.  The skipper’s property valuation is $24,780,000!!!  That’s one heck of a nest egg.  That’s right.  Chris’ Corner is not only fun, but is educational, too.


Another interesting bit of fun is that the skipper dipped a glass into the water and pulled up a glassful of lake water.  It was crystal clear.  He explained that the first 25 feet or so of the lake (it’s 250 feet at its deepest) is exposed to so much ultraviolet radiation from the sun that it actually kills all pathogens and bakes, for lack of a better term, it clean.  To prove his point, he said this water can actually be drunk and told us to take a sip if we wished.  I did take a nip and it tasted just fine.

After 90 minutes, our boat docked and I decided to take a visit to the Blue Spring Heritage Center.  The water is literally blue and is reported to have healing properties.  Thirty-eight million gallons of water run through the spring each year.  The site also has some historical significance as it is also part of the Trail of Tears.  According to the informational film, the 9 day stopover at Blue Spring provided the lone beacon of hope to the Cherokee during their tragic journey.  Aside from the spring, the area is also known for its wildflower and rock gardens.

The Blue Spring

The Blue Spring


This mound is where the Cherokee camped for 9 days as they walked the Trail of Tears.

This mound is where the Cherokee camped for 9 days as they walked the Trail of Tears.

It was the first truly hot day I had experienced in Eureka Springs so I decided to retreat to the comfort of the Inn at Rose Hall to organize my notes and relax until dinner.

FUN FACT:  Despite the heat, you will not be plagued by mosquitoes in Eureka Springs.  There is a massive bat population in the city and they keep the pesky bloodsuckers in check by feeding upon them at night.

For dinner, I decided to try a little fine dining and went to Gaskins Cabin Steakhouse just outside of Eureka Springs.  It’s a tiny little establishment and you just might miss it as it actually looks like a tiny house.  It was actually much smaller at one point as the restaurant built around the original log cabin (which is 150 years old).

I enjoyed a fresh dinner salad with homemade ranch dressing and a sirloin steak with a loaded baked potato.  This was one of the best, if not the best, steak I have ever tasted.  It was cooked just right and was seasoned to perfection.  I savored every delicious bite and took over half of it with me to enjoy for my supper on my return home the next day.

After a few hours of puttering around, it was time for my final event of the trip.  Incredibly, for the third straight time, I would be returning to my explorations of the supernatural as I would be taking the Ghost Tour at the Crescent Hotel and Spa.

The Crescent Hotel & Spa built in 1886.

The Crescent Hotel & Spa built in 1886.

The hotel was built in 1886 and has quite the interesting past.  My tour was led by Marshall Jon Law who was a very animated, entertaining, and gregarious guide.  He began by giving us an abbreviated history of the hotel and then went into how the hotel is considered the most haunted in America and one of the most haunted buildings in the country.  So strong is the hotel’s haunted reputation that it has been featured on Ghost Hunters and an event called ESP Weekend is held every January in which the hotel contains nothing but paranormal investigators.

Each floor had unique stories behind them and there was even photographic evidence of strange goings-on that Marshall showed to the visitors.  As Marshall told us, 95% of supernatural activity can be explained or debunked by science, leaving 5% that science cannot currently explain.  These photos fell into the 5% category.

Our guide, Marshall Jon Law.

Our guide, Marshall Jon Law.

Out of the numerous tales we heard, there were three that stood out.  Two were rather lighthearted and the third was a dark chapter in the hotel’s history.

The first tale is that of the anti-poltergeist, Theodora.  Theodora was a very neat, clean, and tidy person in life and that attribute has followed her into the afterlife because this ghost picks up after you.  There were reports of make-up kits being put away, compacts closed, and lipsticks capped.  Apparently if you’re sloppy enough, Theodora will actually pack your bags and leave them by the door for you in a not so subtle way of saying, “Get out!”

The second tale was that of the traditional poltergeist, Michael.  Michael was a young Irishman who did construction work on the hotel.  Michael also had a fondness for women which ultimately caused his death.  While working up high an attractive woman passed by under Michael and, while attempting to get a better look at her, Michael fell, struck a beam over room 218, and perished.

Since then Room 218 has been Michael’s room and he still has a liking for the ladies.  Reports have been made of the shower faucets being fiddled with while women are bathing, the curtains being tied in knots, and women being gently caressed by unseen hands.  Michael does not believe in sharing women as it is reported that he, quite literally, kicks the men out of the bed.

Astoundingly, women seem to have an attraction to Michael!  As Marshall told us, the ratio of women renting that room to men is 5 to 1.  Some of these women even have “dates” with Michael such as pouring a drink for him or having an extra meal brought in.

The third tale was a black mark in the hotel’s history.  At one point a man named Norman Baker bought the hotel and turned it into a cancer clinic.  Baker was a highly intelligent liar and con artist who had never stepped foot into a medical school, yet called himself a doctor and claimed he could cure cancer.  According to Marshall, Baker was a big believer in the power of the mind.  Having been misdiagnosed with a terminal illness as a child, Baker was determined to overcome the illness with positive thinking.  As years went by and he did not die, Baker convinced himself that he had thought the illness into oblivion and this was the core idea of his cancer cure.

The fourth floor was split into two sections:  a convalescing area and an asylum.  In the convalescing area, cancer patients were taught how to “hug out the cancer” as Marshall said.  They would think good thoughts and share the stories of the good times they had before getting sick and the good times they would have after the cancer vanished.  If patients did not get better, then they were obviously crazy and would get transferred to the asylum section where they were given shots of Baker’s Special Serum No. 5 8-10 times a day!

The needle used to deliver these shots was massive and the shots were extremely painful.  The doors in the asylum were 3 inches thick to drown out the screams and groans of the patients.  When the patients died, nurses would sneak into their rooms in the wee hours of the morning and cart the bodies down to the morgue, which still exists and we did visit it.

Adding insult to injury, Baker would continue to charge families for treatment after the patient’s death.  Baker constantly feared for his life, with good reason as the Mafia made 3 attempts on it, and was protected by heavily armed bodyguards and kept a pair of Tommy guns in his bulletproof office for added precaution.

For all the misery this quack caused, he was finally nailed for mail fraud since he sent out flyers saying he could cure cancer.  He was sentenced to 4 years in prison, bribed his way out, and died of cancer himself after moving to a houseboat where he promoted a cure for tuberculosis.

There have been reports of gurneys squeaking down the hall in the wee hours of the morning and some have reported seeing apparitions of nurses moving the ghostly bodies down the hall to the elevator.  While we were in the morgue we watched a clip from the Ghost Hunters episode in which the hunters investigated the hotel and they had thermal footage of what appeared to be a man in a top hat staring at the investigators.

Inside the morgue.  Where Marshall is standing is where thermal footage was caught of a ghost in Ghost Hunters.

Inside the morgue. Where Marshall is standing is where thermal footage was caught of a ghost in Ghost Hunters.

Whether you believe in the supernatural or are a hardened skeptic, I do highly recommend the tour because you will get interesting tales and an intriguing look at history.

I was supposed to take part in the hotel’s Flickering Tales event which shares ghost stories about the Eureka Springs area, but the event got canceled due to low sales.  It would have been nice if that had been posted someplace as the 3 of us who did buy tickets were not staying at the hotel.  As it is, I’ll be contacting the hotel in the morning to get a refund for the event.  But as my night had come to an early end, I decided to head back to Rose Hall for some shuteye.

For my final breakfast at the Inn at Rose Hall, I started with a carafe of orange juice and a dish of strawberries, cream, and granola.  The main course was green eggs and ham (and I liked them, Sam I Am) with a side dish of fried potatoes.

Straweberries, cream, and granola.

Straweberries, cream, and granola.

Green eggs, ham, and fried potatoes.

Green eggs, ham, and fried potatoes.

My stay in Eureka Springs had all the hallmarks of a great adventure.  I was ready to get home, but kind of reluctant to leave as I had such a great time.  Zoie’s hospitality and entertaining (or cooking, if you will) were of the very best quality.  But don’t take my word for it.  Reserve a room at the Inn at Rose Hall and experience it for yourself.  There’s a lot to do in this town and you will have an enjoyable stay.

Till the next adventure. . .