Man's act to draw on legend

`Spirit Theater' show a seance to summon Daniel Shea's spirit Performer to draw on local legend for `Spirit Theater' performance

October 28, 1999|By Jill Hudson Neal | Jill Hudson Neal,SUN STAFF

If you're a fan of things that go bump in the night, Dai Andrews is your kind of guy.

Andrews, 22, describes himself as a "full-time entertainment medium," a person who gets in touch with spirits of the nether world. He also happens to be a seasoned circus performer, street magician, fire breather, sword swallower and actor.

For two days beginning tomorrow, Andrews will put on his most ambitious project: a classic 19th-century-style seance called "Spirit Theater."

The production, held in historic Ellicott City's Ellicott Mills shopping arcade on Main Street, will attempt to contact the spirit of Daniel Shea, a tobacco shop owner who was found murdered outside his Main Street business in the late 1800s. Local legend has it that Shea's ghost still haunts the streets of Ellicott City.

The seance, which will be done by candlelight, is meant to offer a different take on Halloween, Andrews says.

"This is really the kind of thing for people who want to do something that's a little unusual," says Andrews, a graduate of Centennial High School.

Andrews usually performs seances for smaller groups -- at dinner parties or other formal functions. He begins by performing "a few preliminary tests to establish the psychic group response. Things can get odder and odder from there," he says. "Tables may lift off the ground or bells will ring in response to questions that have been asked."

Andrews views seances almost as performance art. He became interested in the medium -- and in Daniel Shea in particular -- after he purchased one of Shea's pocket watches a year ago from an Ellicott City antiques dealer.

He soon became fascinated with Shea's legend. Andrews believes people would be interested in the tale and that people would want to contact Shea -- especially at Halloween.

Andrews set out to become a street magician after graduating from high school. He backpacked all over Europe and eventually joined the "Circo De Moira Orfe," (or "Moira Orfe's Circus,") and traveled around Italy. He has performed at Renaissance festivals.

Andrews warns that the seance is not a show for young children.

"There's nothing in the seance that is bloody or macabre," he says. "But I think that there are some parts of the show that children ages 12 and younger could find to be too disturbing. It's very psychologically powerful.

"Besides, they'll probably just ruin the mood for everyone else there."

Tickets to "Spirit Theater" are $20 and are available through Legends in historic Ellicott City by calling 410-465-0010. Show times are 7: 30 p.m. and 9: 30 p.m. Friday and Sunday and 9: 30 p.m. and midnight Saturday. No children younger than 12 will be admitted. Light refreshments will be served before the show.

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