To the delight of seasoned veterans and newcomers, alike, the light of live theater shown down upon the Cleveland Public Theatre (CPT) campus on Saturday, September 18, 2021. The theme, the Break of Dawn, spilled onto every area of the organization as party-goers mingled with crowd performers, and as local artists brought their creative gifts to life on stages throughout the property.
Being careful to adhere to strict COVID guidelines for theaters and patrons, the space was set up a bit differently this year. Vaccination was required for all, capacity was monitored and limited for social distancing purposes, and masks were required indoors for all vendors, patrons, and staff. But this did not dampen anyone’s spirits!
Patron Pasha Thomas from the east side of Cleveland came out to enjoy the festivities while supporting Randell McShepard, the PAN Award Winner for the night. “I look forward to celebrating him! This is my first time [at Pandemonium] and I’m a theater lover. I’m looking forward to the amazing things I might find tonight, and what amazing new friends I meet,” she said.
The event was full of friends, as well as fun and food. With 11 stages of original work by various dance, theater, and musical acts, the celebration also featured food from chefs at Grumpy’s Cafe, Gypsy Beans & Baking Co., Ninja City Kitchen and Bar, Rincón Criollo, The Root Cafe, Saigon Food Service and Catering, Sweet Moses, Urban Kitchen, XYZ Tavern, and Taste of Cleveland.
Nicole Brichacek, owner of Gypsy Beans at the corner of W. 65th and Detroit was certainly glad to share her fare with the masses. “For me, this is a very special night. I have been catering for Pandemonium for 15 years… maybe even 16 years…. and it is so amazing to see the magic. It is so unbelievable to be with customers and the neighborhood family that we see all the time at the store. The community has really supported us this whole entire time, and it’s been such a blessing. It’s nice to be able to be here: to give back and to entertain,” she said.
Although a lot of the indoor building spaces (like hallways and closets) that usually contain small acts were not used this year, that didn’t stop CPT from using outdoor alleys, domes, an old shipping container, and other parts of the campus for the staging of this annual benefit.
Cynthia and Brian Williams from Walton Hills saw their very first Pandemonium performance ever at Stage 6 (the New Day Nook) early on in the night. They witnessed “I’m Just Playing,” written, directed, and performed by Kris Mills and Cassie Harner. “This is our first experience with Pandemonium… it was far more than I ever expected. I would recommend it to anyone. It was just that good… in a shipping container,” said Cynthia.
The excitement and gratitude for being able to experience live performances again was certainly felt by all, especially by the artists. Singer Rae Monet performed a set on Stage 9 (the Sunburst Sound Stage) and was grateful for the chance to express her music to a live crowd. “I sang because I love to perform – this is my life. It was both exhilarating and nerve-wracking because it’s been a year and a half since I performed! Am I really ready for this?” The sentiment was echoed by many of the acts for the night – but all went well, and no one held back their exuberance.
The pinnacle of the evening was the presentation of the PAN Award to this year’s honoree, Randell McShepard, Vice President of Public Affairs and Chief Talent Officer for RPM International Inc. Mr. McShepard’s bio is impressive: he is active on several boards in the Cleveland area including Baldwin Wallace University, Destination Cleveland, and Taylor Oswald LLC. He is Co-Founder and Chairman of PolicyBridge, a public policy think tank serving the Northeast Ohio region, and Co-Founder of the Rid-All Green Partnership, a thriving urban farm and environmental education campus in Cleveland’s Lower Kinsman neighborhood. He also currently serves as a member of the Cuyahoga County Citizens’ Advisory Council on Equity, established in 2020.
Artists for 2021 Pandemonium:
Dance Performances by Verb Ballets; Inlet Dance Theatre; Ballet Legato; Bella Sin; De’Aja Mon’e & Ahaadii Rice.
Live Music Performances by Pureplex DJs featuring Neil Chastain and DJ Square Biz; The Katy; Anthony Covatta; Harmony; DJ Chris Pulse, Post Saga and more.
Original Theatrical Work by Raymond Bobgan & Cleveland CORE Ensemble; Carrie Williams & Amy Schwabauer; Amanda Lin Boyd; The Dark Room featuring plays by Tim Collingwood, Craig Webb, Renee Schilling, Molly McFadden; Andrew Aaron Valdez; Zuggie Tate; Raja Belle Freeman; Patrick Warner; Holly Holsinger; Cassandra Harner; Avery LaMar Pope; Syrmylin Cartwright; Luna Larkinsong, and many more.
Additional Performances by Mark Zust; Martinique Mims; Erin E. Dolan & Stratosphere; Ohio City Theatre Project; Nadia Tarnawsky; Toby Vera Bercovici; Daniel Wasdahl; Radio on the Lake Theatre; Window Performances with Maya Nicholson, Ananias J. Dixon, Sidney Smith, Michelle Guerry, Kristen Zajac, Jordan Thompson, Jason Samuel, & Alisha M. Caraballo, Art Acts; Kriss Mills & Caddie Harner; Yacht Lemonade; Generation L.Y.G.H.T; Real Live Theatre; Statosphere; Kyle Rakotci, Lydia Benson, Maja Paar, Forrest Paige, and others.
Visual Art Installation & Multimedia by Inda Blatch-Geib Designs; Cara Romano; Benjamin Gantose & Cayla Destefano; Dale Good; Beth Wood, and more.
Pandemonium is an annual fundraiser, but fans like you can support Cleveland Public Theatre all year round. To discover other giving opportunities or make a donation, please visit https://www.cptonline.org/support/.
Financial backing supports programming like the Student Theatre Enrichment Program (S.T.E.P.), Cleveland Act Now, the Y-Haven Theatre Project, and resident companies Teatro Público de Cleveland (TPC), and Masrah Cleveland Al-Arabi مسرح كليفلاند العربي. And as always – come see the many shows!
For a look at some of the evening’s candid adventures, please scroll through the Pandemonium 2021 gallery.