So many flukes carved a contorted trail, delivering me within a few feet of Kenneth Feld, opening night at Illuscination in Coney Island.
In the beginning, I was resolved to see Cole Bros Circus at Coney in 2010, since I’d not seen the show since the 2005 season, which likely marked a low point (no animals.) in its more than respectable history. I had, I thought, a solid contact ready to supply me with Coney dates once booked.. I even reserved train travel to NY in July so I could secure the lowest sleeping car rates.. My original intent, period.
First detour: Cole Bros. contact did not come through. So, in the meantime, I did some sleuthing, ever intent on somehow, somewhere seeing Kelly Miller. By serendipity almost, I discovered it would be playing in Brewster, New York on Thursday, June 17. Easily reachable by a 1-1/2 hour train ride. Bingo! Kelly-Miller produced by John Ringling North II at last. So I canceled my July train reservation and got decent sleeping car rates on one that would put me into New York city on June 14, leaving for my return the morning of June 18.
A month or so later, I learned that Ringling would be returning to Coney after all, opening night — June 17, same day as Kelly Miller. Drafts! I could not extend another day, because Amtrak’s sleeper rates go from very expensive(which I had erlier nabbed) to outrageous, now the dismal option..
Which show to see? A no brainier. I had never seen a circus produced by North II, so I would have to skip Illuscination..
Second detour: When I called the Brewster Chamber of Commerce to reconfirm the upcoming Kelly Miller date, miracle of miracles, I learned that it had been moved ahead by one day to June 16. That meant I could see both Kelly Miller and Ringling!
I booked the cheapest Illuscination seat on line, $10 (nearly $20, thank you, ticketmaster), just to cover myself; last year I had done the same, a good move because the opening night last year was sold out.
Third detour: Horrible sight lines from my seat. Last year for the same price, I sat high up and had a reasonably good view. Now I was sitting in the second row from ground level, though close to the ring, but many late arriving customers wandering in front of the section made it infuriatingly hard to follow the show. I could and would have, except for ...
Fourth detour: empty seats. I noticed to my right a swath of unoccupied chairs in the section directly facing the front side,
Fifth detour: The usher who said yes. I got up and made an appeal to two ushers, stressing how hard it was to watch the show. First usher said no. Second said okay, unless somebody else comes to claim seat.
I hurried up the aisle, and sat myself in a largely vacant row, second or third seat from the aisle, noticing a number of very impressively dressed and groomed men, possibly part of the Brooklyn or Feld opening night contingents.
During intermission, I discovered Kenneth Feld standing a few feet away from me in the aisle, chatting amiably with his corporate and/or holy entourage. That’s when, after he turned around and I could only see his backside, I could not resist the urge to withdraw my compact camera, lift quickly, snap and put back.
During the second half of the show, I happened to glance to my right and noticed the Feld of Felds sitting on the aisle, same row as me, and was amused by the proximity. I had up against my knee half the time a flier about safety I’d been handed by a policeman, upon which I was scribbling notes of his show in progress.
And what exactly did I observe the moment I spotted him in his seat?
Stay tuned for the next chapter: Kenneth Feld sightings on the Coney lot.