Clown for a New Day

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

Monday, September 27, 2010

Tea Tent Tidbits: Ringling Train Goes Cho! Cho! ... Barnum Goes Bronze ... Baraboo Hosts Chinese Acrobats ... Carson & Barnes in Trouble?...

Okay, let’s get this Monday morning show on the road, the “show” being typed, or should I say hacked out, here on a hot Sunday morning in the L’Amyx tea tent ... Enter, leading my parade to wake you up in your cubicle, your bed, your lawn chair or cafe window seat -- P.T. Barnum! A bronze statute of the Great Showman standing all of 6' 3" was just erected to celebrate His 200th birthday and honor His Merry Suckerhood up there in Old New England, front of the Bethel Library. No, that's not the statue, I don't think; impossible to locate a photo just yet, but one I saw then lost was not nearly as impressive. Say what you may, P.T, our first great national spinmaster (or was that Mr. Jefferson?) built up a name that alone lured Americans by the trainloads out to his ever-expanding circus tents resulting in the eventual birth, by public demand, of three-ring circus Amerimania...

Hold Your Protests, Sacramento! Whether you like it or not, the elephants ARE coming (or came) .... City dads and moms, none to thrilled about you-know-what, getting one vet to claim the mammoths suffer from arthritis, worse yet, are being deprived of their meds; yet another vet, a second opinion savior, shouting out, “hold those pachyderm prescriptions!" Seems the four Jumbos are A-OK to perform. So, on with the four! ... Only four? Kelly-Miller Circus, sporting SIX, in a golden moment of power captured on You Tube, is looking Big Time. Might John Ringling North II have an angle to market here? ‘Twas his flamboyant uncle, JRN the original, who once hosted 55 on his mighty ‘55 opus.

Elephants are Gods in parts of Asia, says my friend Boyi Yuan looking over my laptop, recalling an incident in recent days when two baby elephants were injured and got stuck while crossing the rails just when a cargo train was approaching. Happened in India. “And then seven other adult elephants try to save the baby elephants, they ran and try to stop the train, but the result: seven elephants got killed by the train, and one was injured badly.” The little ones did not survive. And how did this remarkable show of compassionate Pachydermia make Boyi feel? He paused, feeling a touch philosophical. “Animals sacrifice themselves to save others; can humans do it?”


Ding Ding Ding goes the circus Train! We learn, Covington connected (thank you, Don), that Ringling-Barnum is to be pulled across silver rails by a big Union Pacific puffer, something to do with the railroad’s “Challenger” (world’s largest functioning steam producer) railing on parade across six states. On September 28 (tomorrow) Big Show flats, stocks and coaches getting steam-powered between Speer, Wyoming, and Denver. A caboose, too, I trust?

Grandma’s Circus, Still? The Old Gal’s still the ballyhooed star of the arguably staid Big Apple Circus company, and might, for all we know, have the “yes and the no” in upper management. She alone holds down the program cover -- or the image I spotted in the show's website press room. There’s a labyrinth of people power all over the lot, a board of directors numbering — are you ready? — 33. Yes, I said thirty three. New show just uncorked in NJ. I say to all BAC faithful (you can count me in, if you like), Paul Binder may be gone, but he never really went away. More on this issue up or down the road; I await answers to questions sent to BAC for comment.


** Early BAC press release features bland photos of some company members posing in dancerly positions, sans sawdust sizzle. The actual circus acts, a couple from Africa, some from Asia major, look strong. Well, if the new artistic director is incapable of flexing strong creative muscles, maybe it’s just as well that the Binder syndrome (his co-founder Michael Christensen is still actively engaged) continues to rule.

Carson and Barnes Circus on the brink of The End? Cruising onto Ben Trumble’s blog, this item struck my eye: “rumors floating ... including some mention of the possibility that C&B will cancel August dates to return home and regroup after a disappointing early season in Florida and in light continued weak economic conditions in parts of the upper Midwest.”

Ah, the rumors that never end. That dire scenario was posted back in July and C&B is still, somehow, out there, surprise! Trumble advocates the show’s bringing back more animal acts, its “strong roots.” I advocate a drastic artistic make over addressing how audience expectations will naturally rise when you go from three rings down to one. From what I’ve seen of the show and heard from comments being left here, it’s same old same old C&B — free tickets, mediocre presentation, and plenty of carney pitches. I fear the Byrds may never fly again.


Baraboo Never Sleeps! Onto the stage of the elegant Al Ringling Theatre, come October 1 , leap the Golden Dragon Acrobats (seen above). They’ve been to Broadway, but the real test is — can they make it in Baraboo? Ah, then they can make it anywhere. Me wonderith if theatre restoration angel and keyboard virtuoso Bob Dewel had a hand in this formidable booking. Is there truth to those rampant rumors, Doc, that you will be arriving for the auspicious occasion by ancient Chinese tradition? ...


And that’s a tea house wrap ...

First posted September 27, 2010 

** Update, 8/15/15: The show, Dance On! was brilliant

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Word has it that this year's Lincoln Center engagement is "do or die" for the Big Apple Circus.