Carson and Barnes Circus, in the 1960s

Thursday, April 30, 2009

New York: You’ve Got Circus! ... Steve and Ryan, You've Got My Au Revoir ...

Live in New York and still not circused out? Wait a few days, maybe only a few hours, and another troupe will come spangling into view. Beware of pachyderm poo. Look both ways when crossing Broadway; Thespians now share the street with jugglers. More circuses are on the way whether you like it or not. They are coming because, suddenly, the Big Apple is the Big Prize for big tops.

Guy Laliberte, King of Montreal, just won’t go away, even if (or maybe because) you have yet to show him the love he takes for granted in other cities. Reports in The New York Times are that Cirque du Soleil’s Wintuk at Madison Square Garden theatre over the holidays drew 20 percent less biz than the previous year. And whatever Ringling-Barnum managed to bring off at the Garden, Kenneth Feld is another you’re-not-done-with-me-yet producer. He’ll be back come June. Back at Coney Island under a tent. This is part of a big Bloomberg vision – something about the sawdust ring reviving a broken down seasize boardwalk that once drew millions, including me. Feld Entertainment "hopes" for a three- to five-year run. A circus saving a carnival? Anybody want to bet me a bag of Peterson peanuts?

Back to Mr. Guy. Our globally obsessed mogul just can’t get enough shows up to quench his thirst for ubiquity. Some insiders are wondering if he is not running the risk of overextending his hand. Doesn't matter. This man is burning up inside to make Metropolis a Second Home. Seems that his Dubai visions have stalled. Laliberte tried grabbing a hunk of real estate at Pier 40. Escrow was no go. “Dead,” he told the Times in a remarkable fit of candor. “So instead, you come in by the back door, or even a window.” So, homeless in Manhattan, Mr. Guy is settling for rentals (with that I can identify), to wit, his Grand Interim Plan:

February, 2010: CDS opens a vaudeville show at the Beacon Theatre, to be directed by David Shiner, with a book and score by pros, and slated to run more than a few weeks, assuming the public doesn’t run away.

2011: CDS tumblers and ticklers cavort at Radio City Music Hall over a four-month frame. Another ambitious “annual” outing. Half of each year will see the troupe touring Paris or London, if not Hugo.

Up there interviewing in the Laliberte latitudes, NYT reporter Glen Collins did learn from Cirque’s Genius-in-Chief that sinking biz in Vegas is “a scary crisis.”

Heck, with our two biggest big tops battling it out for Big Apple Bragging Rights, and what with all the lesser lights (Birdhouse Factory, Casual Cal, etc.) vying for a shred of the I'll-Take-Manhattan market, not to mention the well established Big Apple Circus (remember them?), maybe poor old Kelly-Miller can find a vacant clump of mud on a street corner and break some daily bread.

Speaking of which, going end ring here, (yeah, this one’s ending sooner than you might have expected, but you’ve still got popcorn and tea, I trust) ... Other morning on a walk, I was struck by an epiphany. I’d just got my daily Steve Copeland fix and it just struck me, I’ve been there done that a thousand times, and I get the dude’s drift, and so why do I keep returning to the blog? What kicked my hollow habit was Copeland’s rants. He’s a clown who just can’t resist critiquing audience reactions, mainly those that come at he and partner Ryan Combs. But when he ranted on about a convention of cellphone addicts coming between the crowds and the show, that did it for me. I had to leave the tent, and haven't been back since ... One more wonderment and then I’ll hang up this touchy issue for a while: Why would a circus allow one of its performer-bloggers to define (if not sully) any positive advance imagery they are endeavoring to cast? And why do they even allow customers to twitter and twat while the show goes on? I have my own Big Idea: Why not a blog from John Ringling North II? Why not a circus owner telling it like it is from his point of view? Now, would that get me up even earlier!

Where was I before getting twittered into a snit? Oh yes, Mr. Lalaiberte was, while chain smoking, granting the Times a glimpse of his burning ambition to take the Big Apple once and for all. I told Don Convington, who links me to a lot of these news breaks, how I envy him being in the middle of it all. Answering back, said Don, “we are living in interesting times."

[photo above: Artist's rendering of the Ringling Coney Island set up]

4 comments:

Alan Cabal said...

My feeling is that Soleil has had its moment, but I've been feeling that way since Dragone left, and they've surprised me with both KA and KOOZA.

Showbiz David said...

That's the infinite intrigue of CDS -- they may yet surprise you again.

Alan Cabal said...

I'd like to see what Dragone would do with a season at Big Apple.

Or directing a Big Apple installation at NYNY in Vegas.

Showbiz David said...

interestng that i find Laliberte more interesting than dragone, although I realize how dragone and caron likely defined the initial CDS imagery, and yet so many people and forces and chance combustions (not the least, gambling the entire kitty on a chance date in LA in '87 -- and the rest is history) resulted in this phenomenon. GL for me is the towering force over them all. we are lucky to be living thru these times. i dream of cds with animals.