Bewitching Halloween Extravaganza Brings Thrill in New York

LR: Elizabeth Barkan, Elena Shadrina and Charles Battersby as Eco-Witches in skit for Theater for the New City’s Village Halloween Ball. Photo by Jonathan Slaff.

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 include Hot Lavendar Swing Band, an all-Gay and Lesbian 18-piece orchestra, and Maquina Mono (The Monkey Machine), a Latin Salsa Rock band. The Johnson Theater will also have aerial dance by Suspended Cirque.

With its Witches’ Cauldron, the event can justifiably claim to have downtown’s most sensational Halloween cafe. The Cino 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 Phoebe Legere, Penny Arcade, Evan Laurence, Arthur Abrams, Norman Savitt, Richard West, Ellen Steier, Dawoud Kringle (sitar) and Gary Heidt. The space is designed by Susan Hemley and Desiree Conston with lighting design by Alexander Bartenieff.

Outside, there are 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. Inside, there is theater all evening. Appearing will be Star 69, Joe Bendik, George Billeci and Angel Choir, led by Matt Angel. Primy Rivera is emcee.

The House of Horrors in the theater’s basement 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 vampires who will awaken periodically for the task.

LR: Elizabeth Barkan, Elena Shadrina and Charles Battersby as Eco-Witches in skit for Theater for the New City’s Village Halloween Ball. Photo by Jonathan Slaff.

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 rooms for Astrology/Numerology readings. Phyllis Yampolsky will throw 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, Susan Hemley, Donald L. Brooks, Lytza Colon, Mark Marcante, David Zen Mansley, Candice Burridge, Pamela Mayo, Ian Gordon, Bruce Kraemer and Desiree Conston. Costume design is by Susan Hemley. The audience will pass through walls decorated by 17 muralists.

The performers’ list, in formation as of this writing, also includes: Bina Sharif, Trav S.D., Von Duvois Dance Collective, Andre Brown, The Love Show, Lissa Moira, Allesandra Belloni, The Mark Greenfield Company, Len Alevante, Ben Harburg and Friends, Cobu Dance and Drum, Epstein and Hassan, Eve Packer, John Grimaldi (NY Lyric Circus), Walter Corwin, Kevin Martin, Stan Baker, Mary Tierney, Jocelyn Perez (her petting zoo includes spiders and two alligators), Jiggers Is King, Dr. Sue, Margo Lee Sherman, Michael Vazquez, Norman Savitt with Susan Mitchell, Chris Force, Paganini Apparition, The Wycherly Sisters, Georgio Handman, Arthur Abrams & Elizabeth Ruf, The Amazing Amy (contortionist), David Slone’s “Le Squeezebox Cabaret,” Fran McGee & Peter Dizozza.

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. 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 Magickal,” “Most Hydrofracked,” “Most Deep Fried,” “Most Presidential,” “Most Beheaded,” “Most Anti-Oxidant,” “Most Crony-Capitalist,” “Most Transparent,” “Most Encrypted,” “Most Plagerized,” “Most Corrupted,” “Most Vitamin Enriched,” “Most Global-Warmed,” “Most Whistle-Blown,” “Most Missing Bees,” “Most Austerity-Budgeted,” “Most Untaxed Corporate Inversion” and “Most Obama-Cared.” Celebrity judges will include Phoebe Legere, Bina Sharif, Chino Garcia, Andrea Fulton, David Willinger, Misha Shulman, Garland Lee Thompson, Miguel Maldonado, John Gilman, Robert Heide, Sabura Rashid, Romiro Sandoval, Tom Attea and John Jiler.

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.