By any definition, whether you believe or disbelieve in her transcendent communication skills, Theresa Caputo is a performer. She’s a personality who packages her skill set – delivering messages from the dead – for television cameras and theaters filled with people.
There are people who trust, and people who are skeptics, who think it is all performance, which is OK by her.
“This is not about believing in what I do,” said Caputo, who gained fame a decade ago through her TLC show “Long Island Medium.”
In Caputo’s mind, it’s about believing in something else, something more personal to you, individually, than she ever will be.
Caputo is bringing her show “Theresa Caputo Live! The Experience” to Shea’s Buffalo Theatre on Sept. 9. During the two-hour performance, she moves through the crowd – “once I start feeling and sensing spirits” – to communicate messages to members of the audience. We spoke by phone, and this a condensed version of our conversation, edited for length and clarity:
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When you are deciding where to go in the audience, are you following the direction of the spirits speaking to you, or the desires of the crowd?
Caputo: It’s not me. It’s the spirit moving me. People in the audience will (say), “Oh no, it’s for that person!” And I’m like, “Nope. The spirit is telling me to stay here.” It’s just a knowing. I feel like I can’t move.
In the crowd, can you sense how people around you are reacting?
Caputo: Oh, I can feel someone speaking to their loved ones. I'll literally turn to someone to go, “Were just talking to your mother? Because you're messing up my reading over here. Stop doing that!” (She laughs.)
The show is an emotional roller coaster. The spirits bring us through the emotions of feeling pain and sorrow, loss and grief. But then in the next moment, they will do or say something to bring a smile to someone's face, and even laughter throughout the theater. To me, that is the ultimate gift of peace and comfort, because if the souls weren’t at peace, they wouldn't be doing that. It’s almost like giving us that permission to smile, embrace life and not to feel guilty about that.
So if someone is praying to – or otherwise communicating with – their loved one, hoping to receive a message, do you know whether that has an impact?
Caputo: I don't know. I've seen people in the audience physically talking to their loved ones and begging them to come through, and it might not happen. This experience is really about validating that there truly is more to life than just here in the physical world.
There are thousands of people in that theater, and there are only so many people that I can read within a two-hour period. The souls that speak are the souls that can deliver as many messages at one time. I could be standing in front of a family and there might be 100 other people (thinking), “Oh my God, that’s what happened to my father. That's what happened to my grandmother. That's what happened to my daughter or my son.” It doesn't mean it's not that person’s loved one. That message can be from multiple people.
I want to ask you about empathy. I think about it a lot nowadays — whether we’re showing enough of it, or the right kind.
Caputo: I’m an empath; I actually take on and feel other people's emotions. To feel empathy, I think, is something that I've always tried to stress to people: Smile at someone. Hold the door for someone. You might change someone's day.
You’ve said that there are people who come to a show not believing in what you do, but then you are drawn to them with a message, and they have that realization. Do you find that people are sometimes more open-minded than they believe?
Caputo: I don't care if someone believes in what I do. I don't care if people believe in mediums. I'm not asking anyone to do that. What I want them to do is to believe in themselves. You can't deny the fact of things that you sense and feel. I want people to be aware of those things that go on around them they might think are odd or weird, or might just remind them of their loved one that has died, to know that that is their loved one’s soul reaching out and letting you know that they are with you at that exact moment.
Do you view death as an ending or a continuation?
Caputo: It’s a continuation on a different level. It’s an ending of that physical form. People are always like, “Where are my loved ones? What is it like?” I say, “Imagine our physical bodies are like a piece of dry ice.” It vaporizes into the air. Imagine your loved one like that. The dry ice is still there. It’s just in a different form. You can’t see it anymore. It changed from physical to just being part of the universe.
Theresa Caputo Live! The Experience
7:30 p.m. Sept. 9 at Shea's Buffalo Theatre, 646 Main St. Tickets start at $54 (sheas.org)