An energizing evening in the Sampson Theatre

Gwen Chamberlain
Cindy Newcomb and Cameron Felice review photos from her visit to the Sampson Theatre. Felice assists with the digital technology aspects of processing data Cindy and her team collect during visits with energies.

The temperature outside the concrete Sampson Theatre building in early March was warmer than the icy cold inside the dark, seemingly empty monolithic structure on East Elm Street.

It appeared the only inhabitants of the building that Sunday night were a few bundled up members of PYTCO (Pennsylvania Yankee Theater Company, which owns the old theatre), and observers who had been invited to witness the night’s events.

But of course, there was Cindy Lane-Newcomb, and she sometimes attracts a lot of unconventional attention.

Newcomb is a Penn Yan woman — a former elementary school teacher — who now is a licensed massage therapist and owner of a health and fitness business, Ayami Bodyworks. 

She says she helps people balance themselves with homeostasis, massage therapy, Reiki and other methods and she works with medical professionals who practice both Eastern and Western medicine. A branch of her business, Ayami Holistics, taps into her skills as an intuitive medium, which she uses to connect with people’s energy.

The side of her business that’s getting a lot of attention these days  — Paranormal Investigations — uses her skills at connecting with energies from the past. Most of us call them spirits or ghosts, but it seems to Newcomb, they are not much different than those of us reading this article.

Those she encounters are individuals with identities, feelings, dignity, desires, needs and rights, she points out.


Newcomb went to the Sampson Theatre that night to see if she could connect with some of the energy that has been reported in the building.

There has been speculation about spirits at the Sampson Theatre for the past couple of years, after photos of the theater’s stark interior taken by an architect showed misty-looking swirls in the air, when nothing was apparent to the naked eye. The swirls appeared again in later photographs taken by a different person on a different camera. At that time, no one could explain the swirl or its origin.

PYTCO is working to raise funds to renovate the theatre, which most recently was used as a storage building.

Newcomb says she hopes to use her experience at the Sampson Theatre and her skills to help PYTCO raise funds that can be used to help with the renovations of the building.

Armed with video recorders, digital cameras, digital voice recorders and a host of other equipment, Newcomb and her paranormal investigation team explored the Sampson, where she talked with several energies.

Observers who went along that night didn’t report many unusual events that they could see with their own eyes or hear with their own ears, although one man thought he felt a soft brushing against his face, and another person reported a tap on the shoulder.

But that wasn’t the case for Newcomb, who compares feeling the energy around her to a gentle cool breeze.

As she walked toward the back of the stage area, she talked about an entertainer preparing to go onstage, then in the orchestra pit, she touched base with someone who had played music in the hall during its heyday.

She carried on conversations in the projection room, on the stairway and in the area where a ticket office may have been located.

As she and most of the observers strolled around the main floor, collecting digital images, infrared video, and recordings, two others were in the basement, getting infrared video of the empty space. The two groups each had a walkie-talkie, and at times, the walkie talkies would randomly ring. In a discussion later during a break, none of the observers admitted to turning on the walkie-talkies. So who had?

When she went downstairs where a series of small rooms are located, she encountered more energy than she could identify.

Still digital images taken that evening show her surrounded by orbs.

Paranormal investigators define these orbs as spheres of energy that look like balls of light. (There are arguments that the spheres are dust, bugs, moisture or reflections caused by the design of compact digital cameras. Before viewing the photos and digital videos a few weeks later, Newcomb and her technicians explained the differences between dust and the energy orbs.)

And although they were not visible to the human eye, a series of objects could be seen shooting like falling stars across the screen of the video camera used to document Newcomb’s voice and actions.

As the evening wore on, she saw, felt and talked to a number of spirits. At one point, she sat on the stairs leading from the basement to the backstage area, and said she was seeing lots of pretty girls running up the stairs past her.

“Girls, lots of girls. Very pretty. Hurry up, hurry up, hurry up.  Right in my face. What’s on my face? Hi, how are you? They are like all over me. That was cool. I love my job,” she said, describing the action only she could see.

Later, viewing the digital video of her on the stairs, several of the moving orbs could be seen around her.


Newcomb says even as a child she knew she was different. She could feel energy around her, but as she grew up, she channeled it toward her teaching career. She says developing the skills wasn’t encouraged when she was a child.

But an experience she had in her 40s, while attending school in Ithaca to become a licensed massage therapist, helped her really understood the full potential of her ability.

Now, she devotes her time to counseling sessions where she helps other people make connections. She’s fiercely protective of her client’s privacy and rights. In fact, after analyzing the Sampson Theatre recordings, she made it clear she intends to protect the energy of the individuals she encountered.


The Sampson visit represents just one kind of the events Newcomb conducts.

She has visited private homes, museums, bed & breakfast inns, historical societies and hotels to communicate with energies. A Penn Yan woman whose home was visited recently said, “We have known there was a spirit here for a long time.”

The woman, who asked to not be identified for privacy reasons, said she and her husband thought the spirit may have moved on when their own daughter grew up and moved away. But when Newcomb talked with the energy, he told her he would never leave. “I love this house,” he said.

“We had so much fun with her. We’ve been to several psychics, but she’s the best I’ve ever seen. She enjoys it so much,” said the woman.

Newcomb meets with people individually or in a group setting. Some people prefer to have private sessions and others like to have her come for a house party with 10-12 guests. She has held large group sessions at four different Watkins Glen restaurants.

Carrie Phelps, the restaurant manager at Castle Grisch Winery, where she has held  sessions, says the events can last for more than three hours. So far, she’s had two events for 60 people, and she’s hoping to schedule another event in July.

“She’s wonderful. She was right on. You’d think I had given her a list of everyone and she went and Googled (researched their names through an Internet search engine) them. But there’s just too much. She reads everyone she can and she just keeps going until she can’t go any longer,” said Phelps.

Newcomb says she has more than 800 clients locally, and over 2,000 on a national scale. She’s gotten so busy, she enlisted the help of a longtime friend, Janice Miller, to handle scheduling and other details.

Miller said she’s even had experiences with Newcomb relaying information from loved ones who have passed. “It’s sad. It’s fun,” Miller said, explaining how Newcomb talked about an incident that didn’t make sense to her, but made perfect sense to Miller’s family. “Nobody would know that (story). It’s absolutely amazing what she does. It’s just little things that wouldn’t mean anything to anybody except you.”

Others who have experienced Newcomb’s readings, share similar comments and Newcomb also is somewhat in awe of the impact her skills can have on people. She sees her role as a way to help people gain new information to put events from the past into perspective.


There will always be skeptics. Likewise, there will be those who believe. That group is growing, as more people have experiences with her. Newcomb says there are those in the community who have told her their strong religious beliefs conflict with the experiences they encounter with her. But it takes just a few insightful comments and observations to convince them she is not your typical Penn Yan neighbor.  

She says she understands people’s struggles with the conflict. “I’m a very spiritual person. I believe in Divine intervention, but all of the connections are pure energy,” she says.

The location of her house sits high on a hill, overlooking the village — almost a metaphor for the role she holds. 

The view offers a strong connection to those around her, but that perspective allows her to see a broader picture of the events below.

For more about the Sampson  Theatre, visit Newcomb is developing a web page for her businesses and she can be reached at 315-730-0913 or

in the basement of the Sampson Theatre, Newcomb made contact with several energies who appeared to be tied to people who had performed at the theatre during its heyday.