Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Kelly Miller 2010: Poema Risley, Rice Animals, “First Time in America” Aerialist, New Copeland-Combs Gags; Torales Twist on Rolla Bolla ...

In a recent production meeting on the Kelly Miller lot hosted by circus boss John Ringling North II in his “Jomar,” (no, not the rail car but a mobile version), ideas “were flowing,” according to inside information supplied to Showbiz David by show manager Jim Royal. Next year’s opus will feature two new clown production numbers and a walkaround from returning laugh-makers Steve Copeland and Ryan Combs. Shriners in greasepaint need not apply at this circus. And that’s good news.

Adrian and Nellie Poema offer an “incredible risely act,” in Royal’s estimation. And from what I’ve just seen on a couple of You Tubes, his high regard is well placed. At the very least, this charismatic family from Peru are a minor sensation who should hold their own in any ring or venue. They mix clean crisp executions with high-line showmanship and verbal comedy from the kids and a simple knock-out zippy zesty payoff. They will stop the show for Kelly Miller. And if properly used, they should provide plenty of color and personality to production elements.

“We are working on a rather interesting production number,” added Royal, “with some twists, but I can’t reveal it yet.”

North II is currently in negotiations with an unnamed aerialist whose appearance would mark a “first time in America” booking.

The diversified Rices, with a performing menagerie of dogs, camels, ponies and donkeys, are advancing to North II's payroll following two seasons on the Cole show. The veteran trainers arrive with some promising critical cache. A tough Brooklyn Paper reviewer this past summer termed two of their acts “a blast.” Crash Moreau rated their four-camel act the “best” he has seen on any show in years.

A “completely different” Friedman Torales twist on the rola bola is on the bill, reports Royal. Other returnees include Casey McCoy’s tigers, Armando Loyal’s elephants, and Natalie Cainin’s dogs recast in a “themed” number.

“The program is not complete at this time,” said Royal.

Impressively absent from Royal's e-mail are three entries from last year that all struck me as show retarders: hula hoops, motor bike up a wire, and a group horse-back riding effort that many charitably regarded as a work in progress.

So, what to think? Two dog acts on any show makes that show in my doggy opinion automatically twice as entertaining. Mix in the inventive comedy antics of admirably ambitious Copeland & Combs, add and season in those terrific Poemas, and it sounds like a ground pleaser in the works.

On paper, so far the spread looks out-to-lunch above the ring. Yet to be known is how JRN II will fill the air, and just who this sought after “first time in America” thriller might be.

Show goes into the barn this Monday.


arlee bird said...

Sounds okay for starters, but are there any good juggling acts-- that's what I wanna know.

Showbiz David said...

So do I, Arlee. maybe we should start a campaign to JRN II -- please, please, please ...

Jack Ryan said...


Dick Barstow with all his ego and peacocking in a "new piece of wardrobe" everyday" at Ringling rehearsals was easy to whisper about and ridicule. And, believe me we did.

BUT, Richard was also a sophisticated and savvy showman/programmer who would scream, "Fine. But now it's time. We MUST go to the air! The show's been earthbound for over a half hour."

Young and inexperienced as I was then, I didn't really know what he meant. I do now. And hope that JRN II gets it too.

Best to all,


Showbiz David said...

Jack, thank you for sharing this with us. The more I learn about Barstow (such as examining his papers at the Billy Rose section of the NY Public library), the more I respect him. Much more comes through in his meticulous and very tactful letters to RBBB associates and his production notes, than ever came through during the friendly interviews he granted me, when he seemed, in retrospect, to have more fun dazzling me with his audacious ego. But he was really nice to me.

Jack Ryan said...


Richard was always very kind to me too.

One of my jobs was to write the production number descriptions for the Program of Displays in the fall, long before the numbers were staged. (Irvin insisted there be a program at the first performance at winter quarters.)

Richard would invite me to his beautiful penthouse in midtown Manhattan to tell me about the concepts, the sequence etc. I'd come back a few days later with suggested titles. He and Irvin would ultimately decide on them. But generally they took my recommendations.

Remarkably, when the show went into rehearsals, the numbers would play out almost exactly as he had described them many months before.

Richard really did his homework and, as you said, his production notes were meticulous.


Showbiz David said...


There is a fascinating book that perhaps only you can write -- your years for the Felds -- and so I hope you will write it. Then again, yes, I realize the downside, which is a pity.

Richard's "beautiful penthouse"??? I smiled. I recall a rather small apartment, though charmingly graced with many theatrical and circus posers. Circa 1978. Upper East, west side? Maybe it was a penthouse by NY standards, or ... are spinning his digs?!?

Jack Ryan said...


Maybe time has fuzzied my brain more than I thought!

I recall Richard's place in the mid-50s, midtown, not east side, that was on the top floor of a pre-war building with a terrace wrapping around two sides. This would be late 60s to mid 70s. Maybe he later scaled down his lifestyle.

Or, since I was living in a one-room studio in the Village then, maybe it just SEEMED like a penthouse!


Showbiz David said...

I know this: I saw no terrace or anything approaching that, so maybe he did scale down.