Bary Lubin's last exit from the Big Apple Circus tent at Lincoln Center. Photo by Lore Croghan, New York Daily News.
Last year after my trip to the Big Apple Circus in Queens, across the street waiting at a bus stop, two woman and I shared a few thoughts about the show.
One of them was not happy. "I don't like that other clown," she said. "They are getting him ready to take over for Grandma, who they are pushing out."
I held my opinions.
How did they like the show?
"It was cute," is all they would grant me. "Cute." A totally groundless insult, I thought -- to myself. Obviously, they were smarting over Grandma's diminished ring time, as they saw it.
They did indicate, that no matter the outcome, they would still support Big Apple Circus. Same sentiment expressed to me by a man in the ticket line, telling me he'd seen the show as a kid and was now taking his own kid. I think this show lives deep in the hearts of New Yorkers.
Both parties seem to agree it is for their respective creative health and progress. I have long believed that BAC's chronic dependency on Lubin was unhealthy, no matter his talent. The parting should open wider the doors for both, certainly for new artistic dire Guillaume Dufresnoy, who has demonstrated brilliant showmanship. Lubin enjoyed unprecedented star power for many years, being able practically to come and go as he pleased. What Broadway star can skip numerous performances?
And now, during his last highly reported season, he is already history, having made his last appearance at the last show at Lincoln Center. But the season is far from over.
What will those two ladies in Queens think when they take in the show next Spring? Perhaps I will encounter them at the same bus stop. Will it even matter? Surely it must. They surely will have read about Grandma's last exit, and they will be forced to deal with the reality of his understudy's importance.
This is one of the most interesting tales that the NY press has apparently never tackled. And how will BAC PR handle this one? [I could be wrong, but it seems that sometime last year, "Grandma" made simultaneous appearances with Big Apple up in New England and also down in Sarasota.]
A most curious story.
Lubin, make no mistake, is one of the great American clowns, and I hope to see him again -- or maybe for the first time, for when I have gone, I think one of his understudies -- Matthew Pauli or Josh Matthews, handled the role. I am only sorry that he has apparently been too difficult and/or demanding to pin down to a standard contract. Particularly for this, his last season with Big Apple Circus. Inexplicable!
I hope he makes a grand and glorious return to the Ringling banner, where he began. But I can't see him agreeing to the day to day trouping that virtually all circus performers agree to.
Grandma's bossy eccentricities, I fear, got the best of her.