Gothic fiction comes to life at The Masque of the Red Death
by Brittany Nader
On Halloween night, Akronites will be tricking and treating, drinking and dancing, all while transformed into monsters or heroes that disguise their identity and allow them to adopt the mischievous spirit of the evening. Inside the walls of the grandiose Akron Civic Theatre, masked patrons will participate in the haunted splendor of the evening in the style of Edgar Allen Poe. The historic theater, too, will disguise itself as Prince Prospero’s castle for the 6th annual Masque of the Red Death masquerade ball.
In Poe’s famous short story, the aforementioned royal character throws a similar party, during which he encounters a mysterious stranger in a blackened room illuminated by a deep blood-red glow. The figure is revealed to be the embodiment of the Red Death, a gruesome plague that consumes the partygoers, ending the tale in a rather morbid fashion. The Gothic tone of the story is the inspiration for the local macabre event taking place Oct. 31, with enchanting costumes, music and beguiling delights arranged to recreate Prince Prospero’s evening of decadence.
At 8 p.m., guests will arrive at the event, treated to cocktails, hors d’oeuvres and the sounds of Balkan-Gypsy blues from The Help and The Hands in the Grand Lobby. As attendees make their way through the mezzanine, they will be greeted by a “gypsy trail” of psychics ready to read guests’ fortunes or fates. Magicians, henna tattoo artists and dancers will be on site, transforming the theater into a carnival of haunts and enchantment. Dancing on the illustrious Civic stage will begin at 9 p.m., and a special activity will take place throughout the evening, sending guests on a scavenger hunt to reveal the identity of the Red Death character. Attendees will adopt the roles of amateur detectives as they gather clues throughout the venue until the clock strikes midnight and the culprit is revealed on the theater’s stage.
“This event is unmatched,” says Val Renner, media and public relations director at the Akron Civic Theatre. “Tortured souls are transported into the story of Edgar Allan Poe’s ‘Masque of the Red Death.’ The characters of Prince Prospero’s world draw you into the fantasy that awaits you.”
While area bars, clubs and neighborhoods will be electrified by costumed tricksters of all ages on this particular night, the theater will serve as an opulent alternative to the Halloween festivities most are familiar with. The masked ball will take attendees into a different era, one rich with fanciful dress, sounds, sights and spooks. Part murder mystery dinner, part swanky soiree, The Masque of the Red Death is a night to cloak your identity and adopt the persona of a storied noble or even a cryptic apparition. It’s a night of fantasy and darkness, an escape from modern life and an entrance into a Romantic horror tale full of thrilling twists and turns.
The event, reserved for adults 21 years of age and older, costs $75 per guest. Tickets can be purchased at the Civic Theatre’s box office, Ticketmaster or at the door. Formal attire is required.
Ballin’ makes me feel good
Exploring an Akron Halloween tradition that’s about having fun and helping others
Let’s say you and your friends want to do something cool. Something big. Something good. What if you could help more than 600 people have a blast and raise $25,000 in the process? That’s what four local women started doing in their 20s and now the event—the Annual Halloween Charity Ball—is in its 12th year. The goal is to donate $35,000 to charity and get 700 people to come out and throw down.
Two of the original organizers, Getta Cornici and Samantha Coldwell, say the ball has helped collect over $200,000 for local nonprofits, including last year’s beneficiaries the Victims’ Assistance Program and Akron Rotary Camp. All from throwing a kickass party, the biggest Halloween bash in Northeast Ohio.
The ball, in its fifth year at The Tangier, starts at 8 pm and runs until midnight. People arrive all dressed up to vie for prizes in the costume contest, which is the evening’s tent-pole event. This year features a few changes, like four categories (Best Girl, Best Guy, Best Couple and Best Group) in which judges pick a top three who then face off with the crowd making the final decision. The category winners take home $100 and the Best in Show gets $500.
Don’t feel like competing? No problem. Between the open bar and live DJ, you’ll no doubt become a dance, dance, dance, dancin’ machine an open bar.
Tickets ($50 pre-sale/$60 at the door) include the DJ dance party, open bar, hors d’oeuvres and admission into the main ballroom. The VIP package ($100) includes all that, plus admission to private lounge with premium liquor, choice hors d’oeuvres, private seating and special performance by Roxxymoron. Thing is, you must be 21+ and you’ll need your photo ID to prove it.
12th Annual Halloween Charity Ball
Friday, October 30 at 8 pm to midnight
The Tangier (532 W. Market Street, Akron)
Tickets: $50 (advance) to $100 (VIP)