All is well in the variable world of tent shows: Carson & Barnes, reportedly routing its new season behind the skills of a new agent with fresh ideas and maybe angles, touting its engagement, via Las Vegas, of the Rinny Family from Buenos Aires (a little Evita music, please), who work "a never before seen" act involving juggling and unicycles. "King of Comedy" Alex returns -- he, I know, has amassed something of a fan base. I recall liking him a lot, though not so much when he had to interact with an overbearing ringmaster ...
So, where might Barbara Byrd's big top be headed? I'm hoping they return to my sinking state of California; my dreams of the ultimate circus experience under any-sized top never die. I'd like to take another look at Alex in action ... This I can report: C&B opens a series of three one-day stands come March 19 in Paris (TX), leading me to wonder if I had it right -- that they might scale down to mostly one dayers; there are also some multiple day sleepovers in the early season frame. Still, I'm feeling like a provisional prophet, if you'll indulge my overworked ego ...
Cirque du Soleil may end up needing much more than a new routing agent. You may remember when they sold 20% interest into some Dubai investors; bye, bye, Dubai? Original expansionist plans on hold. King Guy Laliberte now telling the press, "There has been no contribution to growth from that partner." Heck, I don't hold an MBA, but, was not the check itself (to the tune, I believe, of $400 million) not the "contribution"? The King expects follow-through on new venues promised, in which, presumably, new CDS shows would play to, well, who? "They can't sell their shares without our approval," says the King, who also says he is open to selling off another ten percent of his empire to yet another investor or two. This all from the London Daily Telegraph by way of the Covington Courier, only adding to the impression that CDS is walking its own perilous corporate high wire. It may well be hurting for cash, what with contracts for new shows at Radio City Music Hall and the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood ... "To protect against over-expansion," says Laliberte, "we have made a decision of not creating more than three new tours or permanent shows a year." Know what I think? This guy, a poker player on the side, has a dangerous habit.
An Actuary's Price on Peril: New niche shows out there getting regional attention include Lady Circus, out of Brooklyn; Aerial Angels of Kalamazoo, Michigan; and the Imperial OPA Circus in Atlanta. As reported by Lauren Cannon in INC.Com, a spin-off issue concerns personal- versus company-funded accident insurance for performers. Workers Comp, which Big Apple Circus artistic director Guillaume Dufresnoy believes every troupe should have, is expensive, he acknowledges. This results in many circus owners requiring their artists to sign waivers of liability. Dufresnoy "scoffed" at the common use of waivers, albeit a little hypocritically. "We use them, too. I think it's a first line of defense, but they're easily challengeable." The man's candor impresses. Me, if not his superiors.
So glad I simply sit out in the seats, even without a policy covering against getting bonged on the head by a falling tent pole or a backfiring clown act. Suggests Anya Sapozhnikova, founder of Lady Circus in which she performs, "If you're really paranoid about getting sued, you probably shouldn't be a circus performer." Another Big Reason, I assume, why the Mexican Family Plan can be so attractive to our struggling shows.
End Ringers: Happy days down there in Oklahoma, where an abundant flow of happy Hugo families in force held the first International Red Nose Cafe fundraiser, proceeds to benefit the construction of a new building for the Circus City Museum and Park. Home to three tent shows including Carson & Barnes and Kelly-Miller, Hugo's been a mighty little circus town since 1942 ... Craig Voise, nephew of famed Harold Voise of the Flying Voises -- or Harolds, e-mailing me about his new blog featuring photos many should enjoy. When Harold flew for the Clyde Beatty Circus in '52, the program magazine, treating him like a Codona god, claimed he was turning -- "what no other aerialist even attempts -- triples. Very very young then, I saw the show, but can't recall such high drama. Two trap troupes worked, the Voises and the Harolds. Give Craig's blog a fly! Here's your connection: haroldvoise.blogspot.com ...Swiss daredevil, 46-year-young Freddy Nock, knocking down high-wire records with clean aplomb. Now attached to his name -- highest cable walk in recorded history (who knows what those creatures who came before us did): 10,836 feet high. The down hill stroll itself, from one mountain station to another, covered a distance of 5,249 feet! A first attempt was aborted by bad weather. AP reports playing up Nock's not using "a harness of safety nets." Just how would he, were he so inclined? I can't imagine he was insured, and I'm starting to feel belatedly, if you'll pardon my chronic naivete, why so many circuses are so willing to tolerate if not mandate the use of lifelines. And why, on PBS, we watched Paul Binder fretting over the slightest hint of a performer approaching an accident. Safer? Yes. A boon to the box office? You tell me ... Oh, so many things out there to emasculate the ageless delight!
The Jose Michel Clowns at Circus Sarasota earned a so-so nod from the Herald Tribune's Jay Handelman in his generally upbeat review.
Ouch! Turn off the Dark, Spiderman: Early reviews out for the new musical on Broadway that trades on circus dynamics are positively dreadful. From the Washington Post, "a formidable contender for the worst musical ever."
First posted February 7, 2011
First posted February 7, 2011