This Halloween, Fear the Ukulele

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NY Ukulele Ensemble makes planetary premiere at 30th Annual Greenwich Village Costume Ball.

It's a treat to be able to perform some ukulele tricks at our creative birthplace

"Don't Fear the Reaper" on ukulele? How about a uke-driven "Monster Mash?" "Ghost Riders in the Sky?" Those songs will be part of the set list of spooky covers and hilarious original tunes as the NY Ukulele Ensemble makes its planetary debut on Halloween. The 30th Annual Village Masquerade Ball will play host to the 6-member Ensemble as they perform two sets on two different stages. The Masquerade Ball takes place at Theater for the New City located at 155 First Avenue in Manhattan.

"It's a treat to be able to perform some ukulele tricks at our creative birthplace," says Ensemble founder Uke Jackson. In addition to Jackson, the NY Ukulele Ensemble includes Alan Drogin, formerly of Songs from a Random House; Gio Gaynor, who recently played his ukulele on Garrison Keillor's "A Prairie Home Companion" radio show; award-winning songwriter Heather Lev; Tomoko Moroishi, and Tim Ackerman on percussion. The Ensemble rehearsed twice weekly, for the last 3 months, in the 40,000 square-foot, four-theater complex that comprises Theater for the New City.

"We also rehearse on Sundays in my loft up in Harlem," notes Jackson, "but TNC is our home. Halloween is like a national holiday in the Village, so this is really the best launch pad we could have. Our music is not all heavy metal, by the way, or even all rock. It is all ukulele. And we are very theatrical." The New York Ukulele Ensemble will be part of the festivities on the outdoor stage on East 10th Street, and later will perform a cabaret act indoors. Uke Jackson adds, "We'll also be giving away a ukulele for the most musical costume on Halloween."

The group came into being after the first New York Uke Fest in April 2006. "I realized that New York City had no defining ukulele group, a situation requiring a remedy," says Uke Jackson, who also founded and directs the 4 day music festival, which is now scheduled as an annual event, also at Theater for the New City.

"We're all very excited to have the NY Ukes here," said Crystal Field, Theater for the New City's artistic director and founder. "We've been hearing bits and pieces as they rehearse, and it promises to be a ton of fun, which fits right in with our idea of Halloween."

Theater for the New City is widely credited as the birthplace of performance art. Oscar-winner Tim Robbins got his acting start there, and Pulitzer-winning playwright Sam Shepard saw his first efforts staged there. Ms. Field promises a sensational Halloween including, "hot bands, hot food, a costume contest, miracles, monsters...and ukuleles." Costume or formal attire is required. Tickets are $20 at the door.

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