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Halloween screaming and streaming at Theater for the New City

The Halloween show must go on!

Not to be put off by the pandemic, Theater for the New City’s Village Halloween Costume Ball — an annual tradition for 43 years — will be a little different this year.

Instead of the costume ball, which generally draws up to 1,200 people, the theater will be offering a mix of actual and virtual entertainment on Halloween eve.

Cobu will drum at the TNC Chop Shop show. (Photo by Jonathan Slaff)

The Virtual Village Halloween Ball will run from 2 p.m. to midnight and will feature 90 performance videos. It will all be streamed on the TNC Web site, theaterforthenewcity.net, and Facebook page, and will also stay up for about a week.

Oscar Award winner F Murray Abraham is part of the star-studded lineup. (Courtesy TNC)

And from 7:15 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., TNC will feature live theater at its Chop Shop (set shop) on E. 10th St., just west of First Ave. Audience members will stand outside on spatially distanced pumpkins chalked on the sidewalk. The performers, who will do 10-minute pieces, will do their acts behind an accordion gate that the viewers can see through.

Now cut that out! Azizza, wearing a cutout, has video performance in the TNC Halloween Ball. (Courtesy TNC)

The live performers will include the likes of Cobu, an all-female Japanese taiko drumming crew; Jenne Vath of The Experimentals fame; Peter Dizozza; Zero Boy; piano-bar singer Ellen Steier; and bellydancing. An emcee will make sure that the audience numbers are kept at a safe level.

For the live Chop Shop show, the theater will also be giving out face masks to any audience members who need one. All performers will have their temperature taken before going on stage, and had to be tested for COVID no earlier than Oct. 22. The microphones will be wiped down between acts and the emcee will have his own mic.

Penny Arcade will share her concerns on the climate in a video performance. (Photo by Jonathan Slaff.)

On the virtual side, the videos — all of which are new — will be broken into different categories, like Ballroom (music for dancing), Cabaret, Womb Room (musical and novelty acts), Kids’ Corner and Late Night Naughty Halloween. Video performers will include such local luminaries as F. Murray Abraham, Phoebe Legere, Penny Arcade, Lissa Moira, Lorcan Otway, Elizabeth Ruf-Maldonado, Richard West, the Mr. Pablo band (formerly Maquina Mono) and punk rockers Sewage Hi Def.

Dan Kelley, as the Clown, has a video in the show. (Courtesy TNC)
Lissa Moira is in the video mix at the TNC virtual Halloween show and will also be judging the scream contest. (Courtesy TNC)

There will also be a costume contest, as well as a scream contest, held on TikTok. Three winners will be chosen for each contest. Submit your video to info@theaterforthenewcity.net (with subject line Costume Contest or Scream Contest) and include your contact information.

Crystal Field, the theater’s executive artistic director, is excited about the Halloween lineup, especially the videos. She noted that Penny Arcade’s is about the climate and the Earth and “very poetic, a little more serious for her” than usual.

“It’s all in the woods,” Field said of the spoken-word legend’s piece.

The Fiddler and the Crossroads recorded music for the TNC virtual Halloween show. (Courtesy TNC)

Of the 90 videos, nine of the acts actually recorded their performances inside Theater for the New City.

As for doing the live show with the audience on the street, Field said, “That’s the only way we can do anything live right now.”

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