30th Annual Village Halloween Costume Ball at Theater for the New City

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Nonstop theater, a costume competition and ballroom dancing will bewitch the East Village in Theater for the New City’s 30th annual Village Halloween Costume Ball. This unique festival continues as a grand coming-together for everyday New Yorkers.

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 1,400 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.

Dance orchestras will include The Great Paprika Band, a noted Brazilian jazz pop orchestra, and Hot Lavendar Swing Band, an all-Gay and Lesbian 18-piece orchestra.

skit for Village Halloween Ball, with Elizabeth Barkan and Charles Battersby.
SPINACH, ANYONE- skit for Village Halloween Ball, with Elizabeth Barkan and Charles Battersby. Photo by Jonathan Slaff.

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 and a variety of private chefs. You can gobble couscous from a coffin lid beginning at 7:30 pm while enjoying spine-tingling performances by Arthur Abrams, Norman Savitt with Susan Mitchell, Michelle DeAngeles, Soce the Elemental Wizard, Salome James & Chuck Muscone, Melissa Shetler, Richard West, GWAABO, Bob Dahdah and more.

Outside, there are bluegrass and jazz bands, 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.

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.

Costume judging in 2002
Costume judging in 2002

Doors open at 7:30 pm and indoor entertainment begins at 8:00 pm. There will be two continuously-running cabarets. Featured performers will include Malachy McCourt, The Love Show, Penny Arcade, The Bacher Boys, Zero Boy, Epstein & Hassan, steve ben israel, Wise Guise, Lavinia Coop, Bina Sharif, The Wycherly Sisters, N.Y. Ukulele Festival, Margo Lee Sherman, Evan Lawrence (puppet theater), Levanah (Belly Dance), Billionaires for Bush, Samurai Sword Soul, NY Lyric Circus, David Peel, Donald L. Brooks, George Bellici, Andre Brown (tap), Lissa Moira, Eve Packer, Kevin Martin, Joe Bendik, Jenn London, Stan Rifkin, Bingo Gazingo, Alex MacDonald, Jimmy Camicia, Lei Zhou, Lauretta Auditorium, and the band Liv-I-Culture. Katherine Adamenko emcees.

This year, Outdoor entertainment, free to the public, will start at 4:00 pm with music by Iration Squad, Gary Heidt and Friends, Angela Rostick (stilt walker), Molly Allis (puppets), and an assortment of jugglers and vaudeville acts including fire breathers. 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 and Burlesque. Lobby attractions will include a Wiccan Psychic Reader, Astrology/Numerology, an Aura Reader, throwing of the I Ching, belly dancers, Hellsouls, Laraine Goodman and friends and Paganini Apparition.

The entire facility will be elaborately rendered for Halloween, featuring intricate and massive environments by leading theatrical scenarists, sculptors, and artists including Donald L. Brooks, Walter Gurbo, Alexander Bartenieff, Jon D. Andreadakis, Pamela Mayo and Evan Schlossberg. The Scary Room is by Susan Gittens and Friends.

The annual costume judging begins at 11:30 pm with the “Monsters and Miracles Costume Parade,” as all revelers are invited to march past a panel of celebrity judges. Winners in twelve individual categories will receive one-year passes to TNC and a bottle of Moet and Chandon champagne. This year’s panel includes celebrity judges Jack Agueros, George Ferencz, H.M. Koutoukas, Judith Malina, Hannon Reznikoff, Miguel Maldonado, John Gilman, Bob Heide, Rome Neal, Sarah Provost, Jane Catherine Shaw, Abigail Ramsay, Garland Lee Thompson, Laurence Holder and David Willinger. Attendees will be judged in such categories as “Most Magickal,” “Most Psychic,” “Most Bo-Toxic,” “Most Organic,” “Most Iraq-irate,” “Most Sexually Emailed,” “Most Fraudulent,” Most War-Torn,” “Most Hungry for Spinach” and “Most Born-Again, and Again, and Again.”

The performers’ list continues to grow as of this writing. Theater for the New City is located at 155 First Avenue, at the corner of East Tenth Street. Reservations are strongly recommended. The TNC box office number is (212) 254-1109.

The event takes place on Tuesday, October 31, at 155 First Avenue (at E. 10th St.) and the block of E. 10th St. between 1st and 2nd Avenues. The free outdoor entertainment starts at 4:00 pm and the doors open at 7:30 pm. Costume or formal wear is required! Tickets are available at the door and cost $20. For more information or to make a reservation call (212) 254-1109 or visit the homepage (www.theaterforthenewcity.net).

Jonathan Slaff is a New York publicist in the specialty of international cultural events. Jonathan and his writers keep us ahead of the curve in the world of the arts and culture.