Abbotts Halloween Special


Thurstons Demon

by Robert Olson

The stage setting for this mystery drama included a living room set complete with sofa and chairs. Several people were involved, as can be seen by the program listed. Their conversation involved the several mysterious happenings that had been inflicted upon them for the past few days.

Before the eyes of the audience many spooky effects were produced. Several ghosts appeared onstage. A vapor machine was so rigged that when a valve was turned beneath the stage ammonia and sulfuric acid mixed to make a smoke like cloud which was fed through a hose onto the stage floor, making for a very spooky effect. another ghost was made to appear out of a pipe. It was so constructed that when it was pushed out of its container it would expand and look like a man. Yet it could be produced or vanished at will. in one part of the play a hand was made to appear and touch the doctor on the shoulder. Then a ghost walked down the aisle and sat in the front seat and seemed to rise into the air and float over the heads of the people. Here we recognize the cloth on the end of the fish pole used in spook shows.

One of these ghosts was so constructed that when he (or it) was arguing with one of the actors, it was stabbed in the chest with a ten inch knife. this just made the ghost laugh, stating that it was impossible to kill a ghost. In this a man was in the bottom half, with a dummy stuffed with rags for the upper portion for the stabbing effect.

As a girl was sleeping on a couch, the Demon came down from the flies in a vertical position. He made hypnotic passes at the girl, and as the Demon would rise into the air a foot or two, the girl would rise or lower in unison with him.

Green eyes were seen all over the stage, amongst other ghostly effects, such as pistol shots from several places. these shots were accomplished by holding a long piece of wood at the top, the bottom end resting on the floor. By dropping the board in this position it would crash to the floor and sound like a shot. The cast would scream at this signal, and the Demon and floating green eyes would vanish before their eyes.

According to John Elickson of Youngstown, Ohio (who invented several of these effects when he worked for Thurston), the Demon ran for three weeks, playing in Washington, D.C. and Roshell, New York. Thurston spent as much time as he could with the show, driving back and forth from his own show to see how it was going. what did the critics think of it? They all panned it, saying they would rather see Thurston on Stage doing his magic and illusions, than having him sitting in the audience watching a show that he had written.

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