Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Midweek Midway L’Amyx: Feld’s New Monster Jams, Dragone’s Touring Cirque du Seuss ...

Okay, flats cut and spotted. Runs up. Roll them wagons off, guys! ... Now you people over there, stay back, okay? And keep your kids in toe! ... Hey, Sage! Spot those monster trucks in back of the hula hoop wagon!

What’d you say? Don Covington has news? Ask him to meet me over by the ice house! Okay, get those Story Department wagons down the runs and move ‘em out!

Getting a little crowded out here? Now, you people new to this midway, check out the chat tents over there under the trees. Comments getting tossed around on the inside ... I’ve got to start taking notes myself. It’s all so mixed up, this dizzy debate about whatever it is we still call “circus.” Kenneth Feld, did you hear, just sank $175 million into a shaky venture called Live Nation Motor Sports, according to the Wall Street Journal ... To be renamed Feld Entertainment Motor Sports. Now, we all know what happens whenever the Felds concoct titles that do not have the words Ringling or Disney in them...

Why don’t I feel a thrill? Parent company Live Nation pulled in last year about 4% of its total revenue from motor sports, says WSJ, and tried dumping it for $240 million. Perfect for the Felds, who’ve got the perfect setting already in use for their ringless division — those black oval mats that Ken Dodd called “a parking lot.” Count me out...

What’s this, Sage? Here's an advance flash from Covington! Franco Dragone, who created, claim his fans, the art of Cirque du Soleil, holding Vegas auditions for a new touring tent show based on a Dr. Seuss tale, “If I Ran the Circus.” Slated to start touring next March. How I’d love to write that script. L’Amyx counter guy Will, originally from China and recently in Vegas with his new bride, tells me he did not try out and is not a Chinese acrobat, whatever that is. Did he take in a Cirque show while in sin city? No, answers Will. He saw Circus Circus. Which brings us back to the Big Issue. And here’s Henry Edgar with the ultimate Big Question: “Do we continue doing what we’ve always done, investing profits wisely and keeping the makeup and sequins perfectly in place until finally nobody wants the perfect show at any price?” Yes, indeed. What if somebody produced a big top to die for and still nobody but me came? Oh, heck, what’s an old fashioned circus guy to do?

What a difference two eyes make: Last time here, Chase told us how much he liked Bellobration. Now comes perky Amy Shmamy (trust you’re not a Feld operative, Amy), posting a refreshingly upbeat review of Over the Top at the end of my own grudging notice. First Ringling she’s seen in eight years. To her engaging write up I commend your attention. Amy felt the story line “brought everything together.” Glad you enjoyed your big top broccoli, Amy ... I still have a weakness for cotton candy.

When did the whole thing splinter off into radical disarray? Was it Circus Circus? Alan Cabal pushes for rock in the ring. Check out Circus Oz, Alan; here, you can have my ticket. No more acrobats on acid, in S&M gear, or out of rehab for me. In fact, may I have permission, World, to nix certain shows I no longer care to delude myself into believing are circuses? Hey, is John Strong on the train? ... I’m in the mood for a couple of goats, one amateur clown not holding a Ph.D in theatre, and John’s charming chatter ...

Sage! Those bed sheets belong in the Lyra Therapy wagon! “My particular nightmare,” admits Cabal, "involves Live Nation acquiring Big Apple or Soleil. As much as I dislike the Guide [Mr. Laliberte], I’ll take a single narcissistic megalomaniac over a faceless horde of bean counters any day.”

To that, I’ll raise my imported rice tea ... Hey, you guys! Move those Mighty Metaphors along!


henry edgar said...

Great -- now if somebody could put together as show as entertaining as this column, we might have more hope for the future!

Wade G. Burck said...

The entertainment, as well as the education and insight is because of the pride of "NO ANONYMOUS" that this blog master endorses. Now that you have "shed the shackles" of company spin, I'll bet my frustration when we first met 20 some years ago is more understandable.
Wade Burck

Amy Shmamy said...

Not a Feld operative, actually just a 21 year old stuck at a crummy trucking company doing driver paperwork. Was surfing the web, trying to compare reviews on "Over the Top" to "Bellobration" and "Boom a ring" when I came upon your blog when I searched "Bellobration". Decided to read your review on "Over the Top as well". You seem to have been in this business for awhile, maybe you can give me some clarity and your thoughts on the whole PETA business and their allegations. You don't seem to be involved with either side.
Have a super weekend!

Showbiz David said...

Hi Amy. Actually, I tended to think yours was an honest review for you did point out some qualms. I get impatient with sloppy liberty horse routines, so I must have seen the white horses on a very good day! We both liked the daring aerial guy. THAT'S circus. About PETA and others like them, a very long and complicated story. Bottom line: I believe from what I know (I am NOT an expert in this area) that circuses for the most part are doing an exemplary job in the way they train and treat their animals according to standards. With all the hidden video devices etc, they simply can't afford not to. I refer you to a guy about your same age, Logan Jacot (you'll find him to your right on my list of blos); he trains animals and has lots of knowledge about the false claims of PETA and other groups. Other good sources are pro animal trainers and presenters, who both have blogs -- Wade Burck and Buckles Woodcock. Flattered you took the time to share with us your views. I think you would enjoy Bellobration too. Some of us believe it is a stronger show. For me, the animal acts on it excelled. I believe there is no one "right" review of anything, only opinions, and that makes it interestng. Enjoy your circusgoing!

Wade G. Burck said...

There are few occupations in the world that take no training, experience, or education. One is being a parent, and the other is being a Peta activist. With the first one we learn as we go, and with the second one we make it up as we go. There are Animal Welfare societies that are very beneficial and valid. Activism is a different thing from Animal Welfare, and it tends to attract a radical, irresponsible segment of society, regardless of what they are against/protesting.
Wade Burck

Amy Shmamy said...

David and Wade,
Thank you for your insight on the activists. I stumbled upon a site and it looked like they had qualms with every circus, it just seems Ringling has taken the brunt of the protestors. I did read a write up from a former employee, but as far as I could see, it wasn't all of Ringling, but a specific trainer who the person had issues with. No show, zoo, aquarium is perfect. I genuinely think that people who train and work with animals, love them and love to work with them. I personally think you can tell when an animal is happy, or has been abused. Animals must trust their trainers for them to trust anyone else and trainers must be able to trust their animals especially in a live show. Look at what happened to Roy in his live show, and that came from a Tiger who trusted Roy and Roy trusted him. Before the show the same PETA activist came up to me 3 times in a row as I passed by looking for someone and didn't realize I was the same person. They don't care if you are there to see the show, they don't see your face. I have little patience with people who want me to take time out of my day to read a pamphlet or answer a survey and they can't even remember my face. I finally told him that he had handed me a pamphlet three times and I had said no thank you and to leave me alone. I will continue my ongoing love of the Circus and take my future kids to the Greatest Show on Earth. David, I don't know if you have ever heard of the Wenatchee Youth Circus. It's a program over here that trains kids to do aerial acts, clowning, and other things during their summer break. Costs about $5 to sit on a lawn and watch. Great show put on by a bunch of kids with little experience. If you are ever in Washington State during the summer months I would recommend checking them out. http://www.wenatcheeyouthcircus.com/2008_performance_dates
That is their performance dates for this past summer. I just wish I had known about it when I was a kid.

Alan Cabal said...

Hey, I never said that rock & roll in and of itself would or could save a bad show. I've never seen Circus Oz (got drunk with some of them when they visited Big Apple in '97, don't try to drink with Australians...), but I *do* know an untapped market when I see one.

Sooner or later, some genius is going to put together a decent rock & roll circus.

I wish somebody at Big Apple would steal my idea of persuading The Guide to close ZUMANITY (it TRULY sucks) and doing CIRQUE DU SOLEIL PRESENTS THE BIG APPLE CIRCUS at NYNY in Vegas. I gave that idea to Cheryl Jones last year and told her to steal it and run with it.

Something in me really likes the idea of Paul Binder in Las Vegas.

Showbiz David said...

Anybody who lives on the east coast is lucky because they can see BAC every year. I wish the show would come out west. Binder & Co. timid about touring, but who can blame them. They have a strong customer base in place.