CPT’s Pandemonium party jam-packed with performances, food, art

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Members of the Student Theatre Enrichment Program (STEP) pounded their feet on the Cleveland Public Theatre stage in synchrony. The group of dancing teenagers then all faced forward, and shouted at the audience:

“We hear you, we see you! Transform! Transform!”

The audience shouted back: “Transform!”

On Saturday, Sept. 12, the night had just begun at CPT’s annual party Pandemonium, and as STEP asserted during the opening show, the theme was “Transform.” Stages filled every available nook and cranny of the CPT campus, artwork and decorations covered walls and ceilings, food and drinks were available at every conceivable location–it was pretty apparent why the event was called “Pandemonium,” even before the guests arrived.

And it was even easier to see why the theme, this year, was “Transform,” when a building usually used for only one performance at a time then hosted over 20.

 When the guests finally arrived, it was a complete traffic jam. What made matters worse was the rain; outside, tents covered all the food booths and stages, but otherwise visitors had to grab an umbrella, placed in buckets by the entrances to each building, to stay dry. Needless to say, the umbrellas didn’t last long.

Thus, most people were stuck inside, vying for a front-row spot to see the performances.

While the shows themselves ran like a well-oiled machine, it proved difficult to make it in time due to the sheer amount of people. And this was especially apparent during the beginning of the night, during welcome announcements, and the end, during award announcements.

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During the shows, there was finally a little time to breathe, unlike when everyone crammed into the same room.

Even at the stage that fit into the elevator, it was a little more roomy than in the main CPT building. Here we saw “Dream Come True” and “Escape,” both quick one-act plays, but which dealt with very different sides of the same relationship topic.

The hilarious, music-filled “Everything is O.K.” featured a group of four actors half-hilariously and half-depressingly describing their miserable lives in the form of comedic song.

On the main CPT stage were a variety of dance groups, including Verb Ballets and Wind and Sand Dance Company, performing for the lucky few people who managed to get seats at the front tables.

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Though the night didn’t run as smoothly as it could have (there were certainly hiccups in the form of almost incessant rain, and the massive amounts of people crowding together in the main building), running to and from different shows felt like a spirited race.

Guests busily planned out their schedules ahead of time, dashing from building to building as though Pandemonium was some kind of miniature music festival. Here, each performance was the headliner; nothing was dull in the night of quick plays.

Other highlights from the frantic evening included the dancing Day of the Dead skeletons in the pouring rain (those costumed performers were such troopers), an interactive silent disco experience in a small side hallway and local singer Uno Lady’s one-person performance in the cabaret space.

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At the end of the night, the Pan Awards were distributed to Robert and Yan Maschke, who stood in front of the audience. The pair have contributed to Cleveland arts in many different ways through the years; in addition to their other involvements, Robert moved his architecture firm to Detroit Ave. in the early 2000’s, and Yan serves on the Board of the Cleveland Institute of Art.

An architecture-themed award was handed to the two, and the audience bursted with applause.

Yan smiled at the audience. “Every time I come to Pandemonium, I’m floored,” said Yan.

Following the awards ceremony was one of the most anticipated performances of the night: an aerialist spinning above the audience to the tune “Dog Days Are Over” by Florence & the Machine.

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Then, the dancing elephants.

A line of large cartoon elephants formed onstage, people bouncing around in the airy pink cloth costumes, ears flapping with each turn, arms held up with long poles. They moved together to “Electric Slide,” and guests did their best to shuffle between the tables (which hadn’t been moved) and find a good dancing space.

Pandemonium was pretty overwhelming, and it was, sadly, impossible to see every show. A big suggestion would be to move the tables after the food was done, to free up some space on the already-congested floor. (Who needed the tables, anyway? By the time the night was ending, people just wanted the room to move around.)

Also, it might be beneficial to start the night earlier; an extra hour or two would have made all the difference in catching a few more conflicting performances.

But all in all, Pandemonium was a party that won’t soon be forgotten. The celebration was different for each audience member, but still entertaining in the most unique, chaotic way possible.

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annienickoloff

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