Monday, January 23, 2012

Kelly Miller Circus Pirates Up 2012 Opus for Road Departure Feb. 3; Can Production & Fresh Clowning Trump Repetition?

New wagon art by Robert Rawls: Is that the face of a certain blogger?

John Ringling North II due into Hugo soon, to join the show for another early opening on Texas lots.

New edition now taking shape under the supervision of Kelly Miller's manager James Royal. ""We have had a very productive winterquarters period and things are looking great."

This year's program brings back many familiar faces. And while it's hard to assess how sponsors will take to the sparse turnover in performing personnel, on paper the layout looks like an inviting package. Overall impression may critically ride on new gags being built and rehearsed by clowns Steve Copeland and Ryan Combs, and by production flourishes linking a set of actions to a pirate themed romp closing out first half. Segment involves sword fighting, knife-throwing, Carolyn Rice's mutes arriving aboard the "SS Salty Dog," dancers and mermaid, North Starlets in the air, Friedman Torales working rolla bolla stop a crow's nest.

Here is where JRN II is showing a flair for theatricality. Not a parade, a spec, or a Cirque concoction, it's an ensemble effort not exactly (maybe never) seen on another circus.

Another display for which North had ordered special choreography will be Mike Rice working camels and a zebra while the Starlets kick it up a "Puttin' on the Ritz" routine.

Recurring comedic intrusions from Copeland and Combs may also bolster overall impact; four fresh gags from the young duo are now being giggled-up in the busy Hugo barns: One has them as angry birds, another as surfers, and another in a hillbilly update on the old washer woman gag.

Other returning features include Ryan Easley with tigers, Raul Oliveras on juggling, and elephant presenter Armando Loyal. Sara Greene and Delayna Fusco are crafting a new aerial cradle duo number.

On paper, shrewdest directing move appears to be the spotting of the Fusco Guachos display just before finale, likely to raise the sawdust for emphatic send-off excitement.

New to Kelly Miller comes single trap and iron jaw veteran Becky Ostraff, who cuts smooth classical posturing, notably sans mechanic, but minus a socko payoff.

Music: The score, in the words of Jim Royal, will be assembled and decided upon as follows: "Marshall Eckelman is our new Musical Director and he will be accompanied by Michael Harber on drums. We will be using music on the computer as well . The artists bring music, JRN II requests certain songs, John Moss suggests songs, and they all work together with Marshall."

The road, hopefully mud free, is waiting. Will the ticket buyers buy? In its theoretical favor, there is something about this show -- a mix of tradition, a warm ensemble spirit, the SS Salty Dog, fresh clowning and choreographic flashes that may lend the illusion of a brand new experience. The story of North's gentle rise to the possible status of a major big top producer continues.

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