Music by Jenny Giering
Book & Lyrics by Sean Barry
Maggie and Kate Fox heard it first; then their parents; then the hundreds of members of the tiny community of Hydesville, New York summoned to witness the rappings of a spirit from beyond. No one knew how it had managed to cross over, but one thing was certain: it had chosen the Sisters Fox as its conduit from the spirit world to ours. So began one of the most astonishing journeys of mid-nineteenth century America. Under the guiding hand of their elder sister, Leah, Kate and Maggie went on to channel spirits for audiences across the country. Yet even as their fame grew, the private lives of the Sisters Fox began to fall apart. Kate and Leah quickly succumbed to the temptations of gas-light New York, while Maggie found herself increasingly guilt-ridden over all those who believed in the sisters’ ability to speak with the dead—the parents and widows and widowers so desperately seeking consolation. In the midst of this chaos, Maggie met and fell in love with a famed arctic explorer named Elisha Kane. At his impassioned urging, she abandoned her career; publicly betrayed herself and her sisters as frauds; and converted to Catholicism, staking everything on Elisha’s promise that they would be wed. Yet Elisha’s family refused to allow the union. Elisha swore to Maggie that over time he would wear them down, but it was simply not to be: Elisha perished during one of his expeditions, leaving Maggie alone. Bereft over her loss, she did what so many others had done before her: she sought consolation in the parlors of the mediums, desperately trying to reunite with her one true love. In 1904, long after the Sisters Fox had passed away, the Hydesville house in which their story began suffered two fires and was slated for demolition. As the workmen broke through the cellar wall, they made a horrific discovery: the skeleton of a man sealed behind the plaster. How the remains had come to be there and how the man had met his end—like so much else about this tale—remain a mystery to this day.