Niagara Gazette


March 6, 2013

Cocktail Fest rousing success

Niagara Gazette — Timothy Chipp


Imagine, if you will, standing in a crowd. You're wearing a costume you aren't entirely comfortable in but is perfect for the situation. While in this crowd, which is rowdy and drinking some of the craftiest cocktails ever invented – both of the alcoholic and non varieties – you step forward, take a deep breath and speak a line you make up in the heat of the moment. You're commanding everyone's attention.

Imagine now going from one bar to another and performing in an act designed to celebrate the very drinks this crowd is consuming. The rush is unbelievable, despite the costume, which is formal wear from two centuries ago, topped by a bowler hat. 

The Lewiston Cocktail Festival, held Saturday, presented the Marble Orchard Players a chance to step out of the cemetery we occupy each autumn and bring some history and creative storytelling to the people of Western New York.

I'm writing this story from my own perspective because I feel a special connection with the first-year festival. Like it, I was brand new last September when I joined the Marble Orchard Players portraying famous author James Fenimore Cooper. And again Saturday, I spent a bit of time getting warmed up, biding my time in the surroundings as my fellow actors flew through performance after performance they'd spent years perfecting.

It was after a few stops on our whirlwind tour of 13 bars and restaurants where I noticed an opportunity. I seized it and made the performance my own.

In a way, I am the Lewiston Cocktail Festival. That's why I feel akin to it. Like me, the festival stood as the little party that could. Organizers like Water Street Landing's Jon DiBernardo and Sparkle! Events' Melissa Morinello spent months preparing for whatever the first Saturday in March threw at them. They waited to see what sort of reception they would get from the people, not shocked by what transpired but certainly blown away.

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