Nonstop theater, a costume competition and ballroom dancing will bewitch the East Village in Theater for the New City's 36th annual Village Halloween Costume Ball on Wednesday, October 31 at TNC, 155 First Avenue. This unique festival continues as a grand coming-together for everyday New Yorkers and artists alike. A carefree fall tradition, it celebrates the creativity that comes with the season.
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 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.
Big-Band Dance orchestras take over the large Johnson Theater. These will inclue Maquina Mono (The Monkey Machine) and Hot Lavendar Swing Band, an all-Gay and Lesbian 18-piece orchestra. The Johnson Theater will also have aerial acts by Constellation Moving Company and Suspended Cirque.
With its Witches' Cauldron, the event can justifiably claim to have downtown's most sensational Halloween cafe. The Community Theater of TNC becomes an atmospheric grande buffet for the event, with a variety of American and international delicacies available at peoples' 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 Evan Laurence, Arthur Abrams, George Bellici, Norman Savitt, Richard West, Ellen Steier, Peter Dizozza and Gary Height. The space is designed by Donald L. Brooks with lighting design by Alexander Bartenieff.
Outside, there are bluegrass and jazz bands including fire eaters, jugglers, storyweavers and stilt dancers, all free to the public and a gift from TNC to its neighborhood. Inside, there is theater all evening. The House of Horrors will be an exploration of possession and descent into madness, designed and run by David Zen Mansley, in which revelers will be put through a maze and duly horrified. At the Champagne Bar, libations will be served by vampire Richard Weber, who will awaken periodically for the task.
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. It is also interesting to note 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 event 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.
Doors open at 7:30 pm and indoor entertainment begins at 8:00 pm. There will be two continuously-running cabarets. Outdoor entertainment, free to the public, will start at 4:30 pm. Outdoor entertainment is capped by "The Red and Black Masque," an annual Medieval ritual show written by Arthur Sainer, scored by David Tice and directed by Crystal Field which is performed by torchlight.
Scattered through the event will be stilt dancers, jugglers, fire-eaters, Vaudeville playlets, Burlesque and Hellsouls. The lobby will be divided into rooms featuring a Wiccan Astral Portraitist/Aura Reader (Eugenia Maser-Story) as well as rooms for Astrology/Numerology readings and throwing of the I Ching.
The entire facility will be elaborately rendered for Halloween, featuring intricate and massive environments by leading theatrical scenarists, sculptors, and artists including Walter Gurbo, Judy Sky, Donald L. Brooks, Alexander Bartenieff, Mark Marcante, David Zen Mansley, Candice Burridge, Pamela Mayo, Desiree Conston, Viviane La Corte, Adriano Moraes and Terry Ferrari. Costume design is by Susan Henley. The audience will pass through walls decorated by 17 muralists.