Clown for a New Day

Clown for a New Day
Dagwood might make it in today's emasculated circus

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Big Apple Circus's Sky-Shy 30th Promises Fumagalli's U.S. Debut, Brit Ringmistress, Kovgar Return, Michele Barette Direction.


Paul Binder and Michael Christensen premiere their 30th Anni Edition, dubbed Celebrate!, on September 20 at Dulles Town Center in Virginia. A month later, the circus uncorks its annual 3-month run at New York’s Lincoln Center. Rob Slowik will again direct Big Apple’s band, drawing upon original scoring created by Broadway’s Michael Valenti.

Looking over a press release forwarded to me by Don Covington, new offerings include, from Ireland, the Huesca Brothers on Risley; and Italy's "clown prince of the world" Fumagalli, cutting up the sawdust with Daris, his "brother-in-hilarity." If Fumagalli lives up to his billing, Big Apple should shine for landing the jester's American debut.

Celebrate! draws heavily on returnees from previous seasons. Among them, Switzerland’s Kris Cremo, touted "the finest solo juggler alive," is back after a 12-year absence. China’s slack-wire exponent Cong Tian also encores, as do canines and cats prepped and paced by Russia’s Irina Markova. Andrey Kovgar's teeterboard titans are another star attraction that's been revived, "by popular demand," per the release. Troupe has also added a jump roping display, and since they're Russian and innovative, the chances are good that sparks will fly.

Program looks shy on the sky-side, what with a single aerial turn to be supplied by company members. Gifted young equilibrist Christian Atayde Stoniev, recently booted off America’s Got Talent, will no doubt score better with a circus that does have talent. Barry Lubin, who serves also as a creative consultant, continues apace as Grandma.

Hosting the festivities will be England's ringmistress, Carrie Harvey, from the Great Yarmouth Hippodrome.

*****

On paper, the complete lineup looks like a campaign of intriguing elements that might exceed the sum of its parts -- even with little apparent power in the air. Director Michele Barette did the show’s 2004 opus Picturesque, which I critique in my forthcoming Fall of the Big Top.

By the way, Barette graciously granted me an interview for the book; he appeared as Cirque Du Soleil’s ringmaster when the show exploded on the world stage down in Los Angeles in 1987. Barette serves as my only first-hand observer from the Cirque side of that historic date.

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