Shivers in the stalls, goosebumps in the gods - when the theatre spotlight is centred on stage, there are plenty of shadows for ghosts to lurk in the wings.
Steeped in history and entrenched with emotional outpouring from dead actors of the past, it is no wonder that spectres and spirits linger in some of London's oldest theatres.
In pursuit of the real phantom of the opera, HuffPost UK delves into the hearsay rumours that surround the supposed haunted hotspots of the capital's spookiest theatres.
Give yourself some spooky stage fright this Halloween - flick through London's haunted theatres:
Drury Lane, London - Panto Dame Dan Leno
Drury Lane, said to be the oldest and most haunted theatre in the world, has had a playhouse on its site since 1661, with the current building dating to 1812. One of Drury Lane's spectral stars is the lavendar-scented spirit of actor Dan Leno, a famed Victorian pantomime dame, said to have worn strong perfume to cover up the stench of incontinence. <img alt="danleno" src="http://i.huffpost.com/gen/829926/thumbs/o-DANLENO-570.jpg?1" /> <center><strong>British actor Dan Leno (1860 - 1904) as the Baroness in Babes in the Woods in 1888 (left) and as 'Mother Goose' at Drury Lane (right).</strong></center> Actors and stagehands have been haunted by Leno's signature aroma of lavendar, along with the 'tap-tap-tap' sound of his disembodied clogs. <em>Carry On</em> actress Patsy Rowlands claims to have heard phantom footsteps move across the stage.
Drury Lane, London - Clown, Joseph Grimaldi
Do you suffer from <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W2nK_qmvJ7A" target="_hplink">Coulrophobia</a>; the overwhelming fear of clowns? Drury Lane can claim the ultimate chilling experience for Coulrophobes, with their very own ghost clown: Joseph Grimaldi. <img alt="josephgrimaldi" src="http://i.huffpost.com/gen/829930/thumbs/o-JOSEPHGRIMALDI-570.jpg?1" /> <center><strong>English clown Joseph Grimaldi (1779 - 1837), who gave his name 'Joey' to all later clowns, singing 'All the world's in Paris' from the pantomime 'Harlequin Whittington'. Engraving by George Cruikshank.</strong></center> Credited as the inventor of the classic clown with oversized clothes and coloured wigs, rumour has it that Grimaldi asked to be be decapitated before his burial. Grimaldi's ghost is known to haunt the stage area, giving a kick up the backside to any actor who's performance doesn't come up to the high standards of the famous clown.
Drury Lane, London - The Man In Grey
Sharing the ghoulish spotlight with Leno is the Man In Grey. Dozens of eyewitnesses of this shadowy figure have seen the apparition walk across the upper circle, disappearing through a solid wall. Renovations in 1870 revealed a small bricked-up room behind the wall through which the ghost disappears, containing a skeleton with a dagger through the ribcage. In 1939, the cast of Ivor Novello’s <em>The Dancing Years</em> were gathered on stage for a photo call when the Man In Grey appeared before them, stalking his regular route across the audience seats.
Adelphi Theatre, London
William Terriss (left), an actor murdered by a jealous bit-part player in 1897, is said to haunt Covent Garden tube station and the Adelphi Theatre, London. History reports that Terriss died in the arms of his mistress, the actress Jessie Milward, in the dressing room of the theatre. The first reporting of the ghost was in 1928. (Photo credit: Getty)
Theatre Royal Haymarket, London
The ghost of actor-manager John Buckstone (left) has been reported in Dressing Room 1 at the Theatre Royal Haymarket. Staff have said to have heard Buckstone rehearsing his lines. Witnesses include Dame Judi Dench and Sir Donald Sinden. (Photo credit: Getty)
The Old Vic, London
An apparition of a woman with bloodstained hands has been seen clutching her bosom at the Old Vic. Some say she is a dead actress with fake blood on her hands, who continues to act her final dramatic scene, even in death. (Photo credit: Rex)
Victoria Palace Theatre, London
Head to Victoria Palace Theatre for a hair-rising experience; a poltergeist with a liking for wigs is known to frequent the corridors. Hair-pieces have been reported to fly through the air, with locked doors opening and closing of their own accord. (Photo credit: PA)
Lyceum Theatre, London
The ghost of an eldery woman has been sighted in the Lyceum Theatre, cradling a severed head in her lap. Little is known about the background story of this spectre. Some say it is the ghost of Madame Marie Tussaud, who exhibited her waxwork creations for the first time in the theatre in 1802. (Photo credit: PA)
Dominion Theatre, London - London Beer Flood
The chilling photo was taken by <em><a href="http://www.wewillrockyou.co.uk/" target="_hplink">We Will Rock You</a></em> patron Stuart Cheveralls and uploaded on to the theatre's <a href="http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=443834242307751&set=pb.154022397955605.-2207520000.1351069994&type=3&theater" target="_hplink">Facebook page</a>. Irrefutable proof of the afterlife? Add the real life events surrounding the site of the theatre, and you have what may be a compelling case. History tells of a terrible disaster 114 years before the Dominion was built, when the Meux and Company Brewery occupied the same site as the present building.... <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2012/10/24/apparition-sighted-in-londons-dominion-theatre_n_2007995.html?utm_hp_ref=mostpopular#slide=1678628"><strong>FIND OUT MORE.</strong></a> (Photo credit: Dominion Theatre/Facebook)
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