LIFESTYLE - BOSTON - 13 JULY. Alejandro Escovedo played at the Outside the Box festival in Boston Common. Saturday, July 13, 2013. Colm O'Molloy for The Boston Globe.
LIFESTYLE - BOSTON - 13 JULY. Alejandro Escovedo played at the Outside the Box festival in Boston Common. Saturday, July 13, 2013. Colm O'Molloy for The Boston Globe.
The Boston Globe

People packed sections of the Boston Common grass on a warm, muggy Saturday for the opening day of the city’s first Outside the Box music and arts festival.

With a dense cloud cover shielding them from the summer sun, the crowd kept growing as one musical act after another cycled onto the stage for the festival’s opening day. Children crowded around a small platform showcasing magicians, clowns, and puppet shows.

Outside the Box—a kaleidoscope of music, theater, dance, and other entertainment—runs for nine days and across the Common and City Hall plaza. Organized and financed by philanthropist Ted Cutler, the free festival aims to raise Boston’s artistic and cultural profile.

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“With everything Boston has gone through lately, we deserve a little celebration,” declared Reuben Reynolds, director of the Boston Gay Men’s Choir, before the group belted out a spirited medley of songs from the James Bond movies. The choir also performed renditions of well-known songs by artists including Donna Summer, Pink, and Whitney Houston.

Organizers hope the broad selection offered by the festival attracts people like Jack Proietti, of Ashby, who made the hour-long drive into Boston and plans to return for at least five more days.

Proietti, who frequently travels the country with his wife, Barbara Martioski, to attend music festivals, said he welcomes Boston’s new focus on outdoor music events.

“Look around! There’s a great turnout because where else are you going to go for nine straight days of music?” Proietti said as he and his wife sat in their blue lawn chairs about 25 feet back from the stage following one of Saturday afternoon’s performances.

“We weren’t quite sure what to expect, but as word of mouth continues to spread you gotta expect this thing to get bigger and bigger each year,” he added.