Good bye, John Ringling North II and Kelly Miller Circus, clowns Steve Copeland and Ryan Combs will be saying when the 2013 tour comes to an end this fall. The "sultans of slapstick," as they call themselves, have inked a contract to tour, stateside, with the U.S edition of Mexico's Circo Hermanos Vazquez, founded in 1969, with two units, one south of the border, the other north. Show, with a website to back it up, is said be a class act, offering a mix of traditional circus fare, scored by a six piece band. Now, on the latter count alone, LIVE music, am I provisionally impressed.
How well Steve and Ryan can endure the long stays in extended big city engagements will be interesting to see. Steve has spent his years on Kelly Miller turning out a daily blog, covering in detail the hauls, his own vehicular breakdowns (which give his auto the onus of a clown prop), the variable (make that mostly not good) lots. He once gave us audience size. No longer. My impression is that biz has been lately on the tepid side. These guys are young, creative, driven, and proud. Though the higher class gig may end up boring them to death - what will Steve have to look forward to without the daily drives from one town to the next, and all the unpredictable challenges that ensue? But they deserve a change. They deserve to be challenged in a different format. To face different directors. Mexican audiences, attuned to talky talky funny brown faces and long skits built around off-key musicians, may delight in the more fastly delivered form of slap stick that Steve and Ryan can't seem to produce enough of. I am happy for them.
Going to the dogs, too? Is this the future of the Russian Circus menagerie?
“I don’t want to accuse Cirque du Soleil, because I don’t have proof, but our American partners talk about it openly,” said Edgard Zapashnii, general director of the Moscow State Circus. According to a report, “American and Canadian circuses with animals - and they do exist - don’t like Cirque du Soleil." Probably a tad if not a mountain correct. But it's a free market, sort of, and in the end, I imagine the Russians with money to splurge on live entertainment will decide the future for both organizations.
Oh, how I love those Russian bears! In photo hunting for this blog, I came upon that fabulous pic up there. I never thought I'd ever take to a hula hoop act, until NOW. That did it. Those brilliant bruins and their genius trainers occupy star status over there, AS THEY SHOULD. I can't imagine Muscovites letting anybody anywhere run the coveted performing animals out of the tent, Cirque be warned.
Zapashnii went on to join the war of words: "Cirque du Soleil has been waging a long-running secret war to clear other circuses out of the market," said the report, then quoting him: "Cirque du Soleil is very rich, and it is clearly interested in freeing up the Russian market, so that there are no alternatives to Cirque du Soleil here,” he said.
No other options? A season or five without a dancing bear, and watch the crowds storm the tent when they are brought back, by court-ordered popular demand, Putin "I'm in" or "I'm out" be damned. Nyet? Da?
Memo to Moscow: If I want circus-ballet, I'll patronize your Bolshoi, spasebah.