The ’10th Annual Edwardian Ball’ Returns to Multi-Level Landmark ‘Fonda’

From lovers of the Neo-Victorian and Edwardian erathe latter the reign of Britain’s King Edward VIIto lovers of All-Things-Edward Gorey—that is, the author, illustrator, and designer, Edward St. John Gorey of the Gashleycrumb Tinies and “PBS Mystery!” intro fame. The Edwards deliciously collide as hundreds of creative, elegant, and envelope-pushing costume-wearing revelers will flock to The Edwardian Ball this weekend, held once again at The Fonda Theatre concert hall, Saturday, February 9, 2019.

Now in its 10th year in Los Angeles, the Edwardian Ball returns to The Fonda Theatre with “The Rose Pedal Garden,” featuring a “playful, bicycle-powered wonderland blended set in an enchanted English garden,” based on Edward Gorey’s cranked-up classic illustrated book, “Epiplectic Bicycle.” The Fonda, formerly known as the Music Box, a Spanish Colonial Revival-style venue opened in 1926 by movie star giants and movers and shakers John Barrymore, John Gilbert, Reginald Denny, King Vidor, and Mae Murray, holds a special place in the hearts of the Ball’s founding team.

“We have held [The Edwardian Ball] in the prior two years at the Globe [in Downtown LA], which is a wonderful venue,” said Executive Producer and Co-founder of the Edwardian Ball and Rosin Coven Founder Justin Katz. “But we are really are delighted to go back to the Fonda where were did it five or six years ago. And that’s been sort of our home base in a way. There is something about the historic beauty, and elegance and the layout of the Fonda that really meshes well with the way we create a multi-environment world.”The Ball is designed to give people an opportunity to explore throughout the space. Aside from The Fonda’s main stage, there’s the lobby, the mezzanine, a rooftop garden, and a speakeasy that Katz feels “gives us an opportunity to program in a variety of ways and for people to have that experience of wandering and discovery, which is a key part of the Ball.”

The Edwardian era, which brought in a new century, and with it the steam engine, a robust industrial revolution, socialism, and a new society together. Together, with Gorey’s signature costume design, it brings to the Ball a plethora of costuming opportunities and potential, including Steampunk, Victorian, and even Flapper (Gorey’s birth era.)

The “multi-night, multi-city, multimedia extravaganza” has become an internationally recognized festival of the arts which presents this “Edwardian world” blend with the blessing of The Edward Gorey Charitable Trust.

For the past 19 years, The Edwardian Ball organizers and team have selected a Gorey illustration as a theme for the Ball. Along with Rosin Coven, the orchestra for the Ball, and Vau de Vire Society , the dance/circus performance group lead and directed by Co-founder Mike Gaines, they take and “illustrate” their own story each year, presenting an interpretation through a stage show, original music, costumes and other performances—sometimes with an added backstory.

Aside from Gorey’s illustrations, he was also a prize-winning set and costume designer for theater productions on the east coast and on Broadway. His illustrations graced publications like The New Yorker and The New York Times, and books by authors such as Dickens, Lear, Beckett, Updike, Woolf, H.G. Wells, and Heide.

Edwardian on Hwd Blvd (photo by Richard Potthoff)

For the costuming of the Vau de Vire troupe, Gaines said that they are often inspired directly by Gorey’s illustrations themselves. For the costume ideas and designs in general, Gaines credits his wife, Shannon Gaines, also the show’s Choreographer. Then the performers themselves “dig in,” he said, and work on their own costuming with some guidance from wardrobe.

Rosin Coven works directly with the same costume designer every year, Bay Area Designer Rose Hardin. Taking from a character from the Vau de Vire story, they will then create one character first. Then they create the ensemble character set based on that one.

“In the case of ‘Epiplectic Bicycle,’ there may be one that looks like a turn-of-the-century cycling outfit for example,” said Gaines. “And then we will create a whole ‘cycling team.'”

According to Katz, his band Rosin Coven is the musical performance group that originally founded the Edwardian Ball in 2000. But after four years of “performing, reading, acting, singing, dancing, tap dancingall at the same time!we enlisted wisely with Vau de Vire, our creative partners, to perform these great stage shows. And from 2005 onward it’s been an annual creative collaboration,” said Katz.

He sees The Edwardian Ball as “a very carefully curated multimedia, multi-modal, art festival” and that he, Gaines, and the Team “hold to a very elegant and high standard” but that the real star of the event is the participants who attend.

“We always want to emphasize that the people who show up in costume and character are really the life’s blood of the Ball and there really is no right or wrong way to do that,” said Katz. “We invite people to show up in a way that’s creative, in a way that’s fun, in a way that’s open to engaging with other creative people. Just allowing yourself to feel expressive in a way that isn’t the ordinary day-to-day, and taking it all in…But really what you really need to do is be willing to be part of a shared creative experience, and you’re there. That’s the magic of the Edwardian Ball!”

The 10th Annual Edwardian Ball will take place at The Fonda located at 6126 Hollywood Boulevard Los Angeles, California 90028, Saturday, February 9, 2019. Doors open at 8:00 p.m. and the Ball ends at 2:00 a.m. Tickets are $60 – $100 + VIP Booth Packages.

VIP Balcony includes access to Seated VIP Balcony with best view of stage performances and main floor, cocktail service, plus all performances, art & installations, rooftop garden, gaming, tarot, portrait booth, Absinthe Bar, and you can skip the line at the VIP entrance. Very limited, front-row, VIP reserved booths for 4 and 6 people available while they last. For The Edwardian Ball VIP Experience, get thy tickets here.

General Admission includes all performances, art & installations, rooftop garden, gaming, tarot, portrait booth, Absinthe and full bar (21+), and limited seating on a first-come, first-served basis. To experience The Edwardian Ball, get thy tickets here🎩

More related stories in The L.A. Beat:

A Gorey Old Time: The Edwardian Ball, Los Angeles, 2016

About Monique A. LeBleu

Monique A. LeBleu is a writer, photographer, videographer, and shameless foodie and wineaux. A love of film history and a background in film production, post-production, and film theory provide unique insights into her movie reviews. As well, a background in technical theater fuels her passion on all-things theater. As a foodie, living in the ever-growing and diverse culinary landscape that is the City of Los Angeles feeds her never-ending pursuit of the perfect comfort food—the world's best Mac n' Cheese!
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