Anime and Cosplay

Cabaret Otaku and the NDK anime con community join forces to help one of their own

When Nan Desu Kan staff member Becca Cressler collapsed on stage during the Cosplay contest at this year's anime convention, everyone in the building stepped in to help. After two grand mal seizures and an extended hospital stay, the uninsured Cressler was left with mounting medical bills -- but again, her community was there to support her.

This Friday, October 18, Cabaret Otaku -- a troupe that brings traditional opera to the stage through the anime and cosplay community -- will be performing Gian Carlo Menotti's The Medium, and donating the entirety of the evening's proceeds to the Cresslers.

See also: Nan Desu Kan 2013: Twenty unforgettable cosplay costumes

"Becca's husband had recently been laid off and they have three small children -- she's been taking whatever odd jobs she could, but they have no insurance," says Christina Marzano Haystead, founder and artistic director of Cabaret Otaku and a NDK cosplay contest judge. "That's when we -- the NDK community -- immediately asked what we could do to help."

Cabaret Otaku's production of The Medium is perfectly timed to act as a fundraiser for the NDK staffer, she adds, and also as a Halloween event, with a creepy, Twilight Zone-feeling plot that celebrates the morose holiday in its own special way. Another bonus of the night is the post-opera debut of a new Cabaret Otaku original: a three-song "mini-show" preview performance from the company's cosplay team, a group of fully costumed players performing a mix of songs from operas as well as favorite anime and manga films and television series.

When Marzano Haystead founded the company a few years ago, the classically trained opera singer was bored with that style's traditions and saw an opportunity to update opera through her other love -- anime and cosplay. "Opera has a very particular community to which it caters, and it is very formal and traditional," says the singer. "That's great, but that's not entirely me. I wanted to do something that was a little bit different -- I'm a geek. Let's just put it that way. I love cosplay, I love anime, I love video games and I love pop culture. We're in a new millennium, and opera needs to evolve. Cabaret Otaku is just an attempt to make a way to make 21st-century entities part of the operatic world in a way that it's never been done before. The reason I started Cabaret Otaku was simply because I couldn't find it anywhere in the world."

In addition to the opera performance and short cosplay sampler, a silent auction has been added to the evening. But this isn't any ordinary silent auction: NDK's public relations manager, A. Jinnie McManus, called on stars of the anime world to donate their time. And so interested parties can bid on private Skype sessions with their favorite voice actors, directors and writers, including Chris Sabat, Eric Vale, Todd Haberkorn, Chris Patton, Patrick Seitz, David Vincent, Cherami Leigh, Bryce Papenbrook, Richard Ian Cox, Chuck Huber, Kyle Hebert and more.

Cabaret Otaku presents Gian Carlo Menotti's The Medium at 7 p.m. Friday, October 18, at The D-Note. All proceeds from the performance and silent auction will benefit the Cressler family. For tickets and information on this performance and the full run of shows, check out Cabaret Otaku's website and Facebook event page. If you are unable to attend but still wish to donate, you can do so by contacting the Cresslers directly and donating to their PayPal account, [email protected]

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Bree Davies is a multimedia journalist, artist advocate and community organizer born and raised in Denver. Rooted in the world of Do-It-Yourself arts and music, Davies co-founded Titwrench experimental music festival, is host of the local music and comedy show Sounds on 29th on CPT12 Colorado Public Television and is creator and host of the civic and social issue-focused podcast, Hello? Denver? Are You Still There? Her work is centered on a passionate advocacy for all ages, accessible, inclusive, non-commercial and autonomous DIY art spaces and music venues in Denver.
Contact: Bree Davies