Stars will come out at Capital Masquerade

What surprises are in store at this year's gala-fundraiser?
Organizers of "Capital Masquerade: Silver Screen" are in the Hollywood spirit.
Organizers of "Capital Masquerade: Silver Screen" are in the Hollywood spirit.

Expect glitz and glamour at the Capital Masquerade: Silver Screen event on Friday. And keep your mask on; you’ve got a character to play. 

“This year, people will see a wide representation of vintage Hollywood. I think there will be a lot of surprises,” said Kate Otis, a co-chair of the Masquerade. 

The gala is an immersive event that’s first and foremost a fundraiser for the Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Capital Region, which provides housing and care for critically ill children and their families. For the last four years, a team of volunteers raises thousands of dollars for the House through Capital Masquerade. 

It’s also an extraordinarily elaborate party and one that is shrouded in secrecy. Last year, organizers created the streets of London, bringing in an operating Ferris wheel to complete the theme. 

“My favorite moment from [last year’s masquerade] was [when] I was on stage and the music stopped. There was about 400 people on the dance floor and a British woman gets on the mic and says ‘Tut, tut, sounds like rain.’ Then we had ten character actors on the dance floor all raise umbrellas at the same time and then confetti shot out over the group,” Otis said, “It was magic.” 

Organizers are working to create more of those moments for this year’s masquerade, though with an even more cinematic theme: the “Silver Screen.” It’s one of the reasons why they began holding the event in the Schenectady Armory Center last year; it’s a large space that is easy to transform from one grand setting to another. 

“That’s really where the event itself was born. To consistently break the mold,” said Eli Rabinowitz, a co-chair of the event. 

Although there are other masquerades around the Capital Region and beyond, one of the things that really sets this one apart is that attendees get really creative about their masks and about their entire look, keeping their masks on the entire night and staying in character, said Otis.

“Many of our folks aren’t just wearing a mask they’re painting it on, they’re transforming themselves. That’s ultimately what a true masquerade is about,” Rabinowitz said. Sometimes people ask the day of the masquerade what the following year’s theme will be because they want to plan their look. 

This year, organizers say people should be dressed to the nines like they’re taking a walk on the red carpet before stepping into the Oscars. But attendees shouldn’t feel like they should dress up like classic celebrities, rather like their version of a celebrity. 

“Be your own star,” said Heather-Liz Copps, the development manager at the Ronald McDonald House. “You don’t need to come as Marilyn, you don’t need to come as Charlie Chaplin. You come as your version of what your Hollywood-self would be.”

“It allows people to be creative without it being a costume party,” Rabinowitz said.  

Beyond the styles, organizers said there will be plenty of entertainment to go around as well. 

There will be two DJ’s, Kip Chapman and Eric Whinnery, as well as an MC, Jake Allen from Fly 92.3. 

“There will be some returning acts and some new ones,” Otis said. 

“And some returning in new ways,” Rabinowitz added. 

“We try to make even the food entertaining,” Otis said. Mazzone Hospitality will be providing that, though organizers refused to give a hint as to what attendees should expect. 

The secrecy is part of the excitement around the Masquerade and part of the reason it’s been so successful in year’s past. This year, they’ve surpassed their sponsorship, as well as ticket sales from 2017, with over 800 ticket sales.

They also started an online silent auction this year because many people were reaching out, saying that they couldn’t attend but wanted to support. 

“We’ve raised over $300,000 at this point,” Otis said. 

The Masquerade has also helped to expand the audience of the Ronald McDonald House because people in their 20s to 80s attend the event.

“We’ve definitely inspired a whole new group of donors who we wouldn’t have seen before,” Copps said. 

Though organizers couldn’t say more about what sort of “magic moments” they have in store for attendees, Otis said people should “prepare for another immersive and imaginative experience. It will be vintage Hollywood.”  

“People can expect to have a lot to look at. They’re certainly not going to have any idea what’s coming,” Rabinowitz added. 

Capital Masquerade: Silver Screen begins at 8 p.m. and goes until midnight. Tickets for Capital Masquerade: Silver Screen are $250 for VIP and $200 for general admission. There will be an after-party at Van Slyck’s which cost $10.

For tickets and more information visit

Categories: Life and Arts

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