When a circus breaks the norm and does better than average biz, the question is, why?
I am here addressing fairly well founded reports that the show did some great biz last season, particularly during its lush New England swing.
I've downloaded the lineup of acts offered by Cole Bros Circus of Stars last season, to study them as best I can. And what I come up with recalls a program paradigm of the 1920s on Ringling (and probably most other shows for that matter), when animals and aerialists ruled.
Okay, here's the program they offered: It's a bag of strong basic muscular circus turns of the sort that once drew your mom and pop to the old big top: Tigers, dromedaries, llamas, horses, zebras. Dogs. Elephants.
In the air? From what I can make out -- some of the act descriptions are very sparse -- a revolving ladder, flying trapeze, cloud swing aerial ballet on lyras, the Thunderdrome Globe of Death (motor bikes, I take it), and the cannon act.
And yet one more visceral thrust: A free style motor show "featuring daredevil drivers and their topsy-turvy ATVs."
Rounding out what looks like a lean machine of forward power, hand-standing (one finger?) acrobatics and a trio of clown turns, one about "a wacky taxi trip."
All of it together suggests a no-nonsense circus out to grab, hold firm, and entertain from start to finish. What a contrast to the year, 2005 I think, when Cole hit rock bottom. That was the season when Johnny Pugh removed the animals. Soon, they were back. Johnny listens to his audiences.
Something brought the crowds out in 2010, when other shows did not do so well. Might it, miracles of miracles, have been the performance itself?