News: Theater for the New City Holds Its 43rd Annual Halloween Costume Ball October 31


Zen Mansley, Lissa Moira and cast of Halloween skit in Theater for the New City's Village Halloween Costume Ball. Photo by Lee Wexler/Images for Innovation (2011)

WHERE AND WHEN:
October 31, 2019 at Theater for the New City, 155 First Avenue (at E. 10th St.) and the block of E. 10th St. between 1st and 2nd Avenues

  • Outdoor entertainment 4:00 pm to 7:00 pm; doors open 7:30 pm
  • Outdoors: free; no dress requirement.
  • Indoors: $20; costume or formal wear required.
  • Info/tickets: (212) 254-1109, www.theaterforthenewcity.net
From Theater for the New City (TNC): "Nonstop theater, a costume competition, and ballroom dancing will bewitch the East Village October 31 in the Village Halloween Costume Ball, which is presented annually by Theater for the New City. This unique festival continues as a grand coming-together for real witches, everyday New Yorkers, and artists alike. An explosive fall tradition, it is always held on the actual night of Halloween and celebrates artistic creation and fertilization.

The one-night fiesta takes over all four of TNC's theater spaces, plus its lobby and the block of East Tenth Street between First and Second Avenues. Customarily, over 1,500 wildly-clad celebrants gather for big-band dancing, dining, showing off costumes, and viewing acts from the cutting-edge of cabaret and theater. Admission is $20; costume or formal wear is required. Once inside, everything is free except food and drink, which are graveyard dirt-cheap. Doors open at 7:30 PM, and indoor entertainment begins at 8:00 PM. There will be two continuously-running cabarets offering theater all evening.

Outdoor entertainment, free to the public, will start at 4:00 PM, including R&B and Dixieland bands, fire eaters, jugglers, storyweavers, and stilt dancers, all free to the public and a gift from TNC to its neighborhood. Attractions will include the three piece band "Fiddler and the Crossroads," with Greg Holt (a Blues Hall of Fame fiddler), Charlie Giordano (accordion player for Bruce Springsteen), and Roger Stoltz (suitcase drums). They will perform Cajun original music and Cajun-American versions of works by Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, Bob Dylan, and others. Also featured will be Star 69 (an R&B band led by Rob Varcony), Matt Angel, Joe Bendik, George Bellici, Urgent Music Unit, and Michael David Gordon Band (classic pop rock songs). The emcee is Mary Tierney. Outdoor performances culminate in "The Red and Black Masque," a medieval ritual show written by Arthur Sainer, scored by David Tice, and directed by Crystal Field, which is performed each year by torchlight at 7:00 PM.

Indoors, a list of cutting-edge performers of many disciplines will provide entertainment. Penny Arcade and COBU (an all-women Taiko dance and drum group) head the list of over 70 acts that will appear.

Scene from The House of Horrors in the theater's basement,
designed and run by David Zen Mansley
Photo by Jonathan Slaff, 2014.
The first floor Cabaret will offer performances by Melanie Maria Goodreaux, Carol Tandava (belly dance), Von Duvis Dance Collective, Richard West, juggler John Grimaldi, Ben Harburg and Friends, Bina Sharif, Lissa Moira Scream Contest, Peter DiZozza, The Wycherly Sisters, Wise Guise, and Alessandra Belloni. TNC's Street Theater Company will perform an excerpt from "No Brainer or Solution to Parasites," in which The Keepers of the Pot sing while a real estate magnate from a TV reality show builds a wall and gets stuck in it. Performers will include Mark Marcante, Cheryl Gadsden, Terry Lee King, Crystal Field, and T. Scott Lilly.

The Womb Room on the lower level will host performances by Kitch, Eve Packer, Lei Zhou, Dr. Sue, Lorcan Otway, Loretta Auditorium, Joe Bendick, Stan Baker, Jennifer Blowdryer, Ellen Steier, The Amazing Amy, Jiggers Is King, Dawoud Kringle (sitar), and Ian Gordon. The emcee is Barbara Kahn.

Other performers will include Katherine Adamenko, Amazing Amy (contortionist), Georgio Handman, Elizabeth Ruf, Margo Lee Sherman, Richard Weber, Natasha Velez, and Michael Vazquez.

The large Johnson Theater becomes a ballroom with Big Band dance orchestras beginning at 9:00 PM. Music will be supplied by Art Lillard's Heavenly Big Swing Band and Latin band Maquina Mono. There will also be aerial dance by Constellation Moving Company.

The House of Horrors, designed and run by 'Zen,' is in the theater's lower level. Revelers will be put through a maze and duly horrified.

Laraine Goodman and The Mad Tappers will tap dance their way through the lobby.

At the Champagne Bar, libations will be served by vampires who will awaken periodically for the task.

Scattered through the event will be stilt dancers, jugglers, fire-eaters, Vaudeville playlets, Burlesque, and Hellsouls. Portions of the lobby will be set aside for Astrology/Numerology readings. Phyllis Yampolsky will throw the I-Ching. Fortune Telling is by Penny Diara. Videos are by Terry Ferrari. Rocco (a Frank Sinatra impersonator) will croon 'Songs Sinatra sang.'

WHICH WITCH IS WHICH? --
Emily Pezzella makes Ukrainian Sausage
 out of T. Scott Lilly in playlet.
 Photo by Jonathan Slaff
With its Witches' Cauldron, the event can justifiably claim to have downtown's most sensational Halloween cafe, with a variety of American and international delicacies available at people's prices. Holiday dishes are contributed by neighboring East Village restaurants, some with celebrity chefs. You can gobble couscous from a coffin lid beginning at 7:30 pm while enjoying spine-tingling performances by performance artists, songwriters, poets, and variety artists including Arthur Abrams, Norman Savitt, Richard West and Susan Mitchell, The Head Peddlers, and Sarah Lilly. The space is designed by Susan Hemley and Desiree Conston, with lighting design by Alexander Bartenieff. The emcee is Elizabeth Ruf.

The entire facility will be elaborately rendered for Halloween, featuring intricate and massive environments by leading theatrical scenarists, sculptors, and artists including Lytza Colon, Walter Gurbo, and Kanako Nagayama. Costume design is by Susan Hemley. Audiences will pass through walls decorated by 17 muralists. Lighting design is by Alexander Bartenieff, Matt Angel, and Bruce Kraemer.

Since its beginning in 1977, TNC's Halloween extravaganza has been a point of origin for many of the City's most original entertainers. Six full-length plays have grown out of playlets written for the fest, and it is probable that the theatrical movement in Performance Art began there. It has been a launching pad for such formative artists as Paul Zaloom, Alice Farley, Bloolips, The Red Mole, Penny Arcade, Basil Twist, and Alien Comic Tom Murrin. Each year, many acts, skits, sketches, and skadoodles go on to become the basis of larger theater works. It is also interesting to note that TNC originated the Village Halloween Parade as part of its annual Halloween Ball. The procession wound its way through the Village from TNC's second home at the corner of Jane and West Streets to Washington Square Park. Now the Village Halloween Costume Ball takes up every available inch (both floors) of TNC's multi-theater complex at 155 First Avenue (the former First Avenue Retail Market building) and adjoining outdoor spaces.

The annual costume judging begins at midnight with the 'Monsters and Miracles Costume Parade,' as all revelers are invited to march past a panel of celebrity judges including Tom Attea, Andrea Fulton, Chino Garcia, John Gilman, Robert Heide, John Jiler, Phoebe Legere, Eduardo Machado, Miguel Maldonado, Rome Neal, Lorcan Otway, Bina Sharif, Sabura Rashid, Ramiro Sandoval, Misha Shulman, and David Willinger. Winners will receive one-year passes to TNC and a bottle of Moet and Chandon champagne. Attendees will be judged in such categories as 'Most Trumped-Up,' 'Most Vaped,' 'Most Over the Rainbow,' 'Most Whistle-Blown,' 'Most Anti-Oxidant,' 'Most Opioid,' 'Most Organic,' 'Most Climate Changed,' 'Most Impeached,' 'Most Corrupt,' 'Most Toxic,' 'Most Faked News,' 'Most Genital-Snatched,' and 'Most Zan-Tacked.'"

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