300 performers expected at First Night Annapolis $10 admission pins for New Year's Eve event to go on sale tomorrow

November 23, 1995|By Tanya Jones | Tanya Jones,SUN STAFF

Rock opera, Amelia Earhart and human sculpture will meet on New Year's Eve during the annual First Night Annapolis event.

More than 300 performers are expected to take over the churches, courtrooms, storefronts and streets of the state capital for the daylong celebration of the arts that is to end with a midnight fireworks display.

Admission pins go on sale tomorrow at First National Bank of Maryland branches and participating Giant Food stores. They will cost $10 through Dec. 23, $14 afterward.

A $2 program listing events, times, locations and profiling the performers also will be sold.

With its array of alcohol-free events, First Night has drawn thousands of revelers every year since its inception in 1990.

"We have children in strollers, people in wheelchairs and everyone in between," said Elizabeth Welch, who helped found the event and is co-executive director of the nonprofit organization that produces it.

The First Night concept of safe, fun entertainment with a focus on the arts began in Boston in 1976 and has since spread to about 140 cities. This is the sixth Annapolis event.

Last year's First Night Annapolis drew 12,000 people on a rainy night, said Ms. Welch.

Planners are preparing for 16,000 to 20,000 people this year.

Because almost all of the performances are indoors, First Night will be held rain or shine.

"Each year is an experience unto itself," Ms. Welch said. "People should plan to try something new and perhaps experience an art form they have never tried before. If they have never been to an opera, they should go to an opera."

This year First Night will feature Squonk Opera, an ensemble of musicians and dancers who incorporate rock music into their performances.

Attendees can also meet Amelia Earhart, Edgar Allan Poe and other well-known figures as portrayed by historical interpreters.

A cowboy troubadour, a human sculpture troupe and an illusionist are among the performers, many of whom are new to First Night.

"We don't have any one star," Ms. Welch said. "Everybody is really unique and exciting."

One new feature will be the steady beat of African, Latin and Cuban drumming on a waterfront stage from dusk to midnight.

First Night performances for children will start at 2 p.m., and general shows will begin at 6 p.m. and run until midnight.

Organizers are seeking volunteers to work a three-hour shift in exchange for free admission to events.

People are needed to check admission buttons, seat audiences, work backstage, set up and remove props and perform other tasks during First Night.

To volunteer, call (410) 268-8553.

For general information, call the First Nightline at (410) 787-2717.

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