To be honest, there were moments where I wasn’t sure if I was awake or dreaming when I stepped into the world of Norwood’s ‘Chimera,’ an interactive dinner produced by Cinereal Productions and Norwood’s Director of Events, Rachelle Koser. For those who might be unfamiliar, Norwood is a Manhattan-based members-only creative club created by founder Alan Linn, which over the years has become notorious for the clutches of prestigious filmmakers, artists, musicians, writers, designers and actors who have joined the exclusive community to mingle, talk shop and attend Norwood’s avant garde events.
So you can imagine my eager anticipation when I received an invitation to cover one of these storied dinners. Throw in the questions I received in the email invite including “What is your zodiac sign? What color best describes your aura? We are all have our quirks, tell us about yours and your guests, and I knew fifty shades of quirky was in my very near future.
Photography courtesy of Amy Gardner
On the night of the dinner, once I was able to find Norwood, which is tucked inside a discreet brownstone, I was graciously ushered into a funky salon filled with mismatched furniture, where a small crowd of excited members waited with bated breath for the evening to commence. Before us, two actors took to the center of the room and prompted the small crowd to follow them to the second floor of the townhouse, where we made our way to a velvet-clad dining room filled with chandeliers overrun with flora.
“We utilize Norwood’s vibe and intricate decor and integrate our own set pieces, aromatics, sound, lighting and props to fully immerse the audience into the world we’ve created,” Devin Compton of Cinereal Productions explains of the muse behind Chimera. Which in retrospect makes sense, considering the setting of the evening truly couldn’t have been more theatrical. I would later find out that Norwood was originally designed by Simon Costin, the man who used to create the dark and whimsical backdrops for Alexander McQueen’s runway shows.
“Norwood is a ‘home for the curious’ and Chimera leans heavily into that mantra. We reveal secrets, scenes and performances as the night progresses throughout different rooms of the Club. The longer you remain at the event and the more curious you are... the more you will experience,” explains Compton. So how exactly did this play out in IRL? Throughout dinner, which started with lobster bisque, created by the in-house Chef Carlene Nelson, and ended in absinthe shots, cast members plucked us from our tables and guided us throughout the various floors of the townhouse, each of which contained a different theme and atmosphere. Think: everything from an aura reading in Norwood’s basement to a haunting and delicious dance performance in the club’s cinema room all captured by Kiss the Bride Films.
The result? A friday night spent feeling as if I was living inside a thrilling non-linear fever dream. Which according to Cinereal is exactly the point: “Our inspirations are pulled from the venue itself as well as our fascination with the bits of magic found in everyday life: human connection and the glimmer in someone’s eye, the relationship between dark and light, as well as situations that are not quite as they appear.”
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