by Bill Ott
With the calendar flipped over to October, people who visit this Ozark Mountain village have in their minds two things: fantastic fall colors and seeing something unique, unusual and unexplainable. This October visitors will not be disappointed.
Of course there are the nightly ghost tours of the 1886 Crescent Hotel & Spa. This year the interest in “America’s Most Haunted Hotel” should be even greater following their exposure several times on national television programs of the paranormal kind. Those tours, which end in the hotel’s morgue, are nightly year-round; while this October, something weird is going on just down the street from this mountaintop spa resort.
There, in a church that was built in 1901, is the intimate performance venue known as Intrigue Theater. The interior of the Gavioli Chapel has been retrofitted to accommodate guests anxious to see acts of mystery and illusion. Being introduced during all of the October performances, Intrigue Theater’s renowned illusionist Sean-Paul will shock members of his audience by carrying out a revolutionary effect that was introduced to the world in the 1920s but with an added dimension of historic authenticity. He explains:
“The Civil War was a time of hatred and cruelty; a time when brother fought brother; a time when our great nation was literally cut in half. However, here in Eureka Springs there was compassion in the personage of Dr. Alvah Jackson, who would treat wounded soldiers from both the Union and Confederate armies in a makeshift hospital located in a cave near Basin Spring. His medical knowledge coupled with the healing powers of the water taken from the nearby spring saved many a soldier who surely would have died without his care. Unfortunately, many were saved only because of surgical amputations administered under the skilled hands of Dr. Jackson.
“It is this historical backdrop that will set the stage for our most ghastly illusion.”
For that illusion, Sean-Paul will recruit two volunteers from the audience – one to play the part of a union soldier, the other a confederate. Juliane Fay of Intrigue Theater will lie down on a replica of Dr. Alvah Jackson’s surgical amputation table. The newly drafted, mock Confederate and Union Soldiers will strap her down to that table the same way they would a patient about to undergo an amputation. Using Civil War swords and blades, Sean-Paul steps to the table and cuts Juliana Fay in half. Then, symbolic of our once divided country, the two soldiers will pull the body apart into two separate pieces.
“Due to the intense nature of this illusion, we may only use this newly-added effect during this month’s performances,” concluded Sean-Paul. “You may refer to it as our ‘October surprise’.”
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