Clown for a New Day

Clown for a New Day
Dagwood might make it in today's emasculated circus

Thursday, July 02, 2009

OUT OF THE PAST: Big Top Bits: Free Vargas Shows for the Unemployed; Kelly Miller Lands a Triple; Cirque’s Naughty Parties ... Big Apple Grandma a No Show ...

First posted July 2, 2009

Big Tops have heart, plenty of it. We can be proud. Look here: You can see the Greatest Show on Earth under canvas at Coney — the best damn show it’s put on in years — for only $10. New Cole starts at $12, tops off at $17. UniverSoul is $16.50 low, only $26 high. And Circus Vargas, which ranges from $15 to $50, God bless their big top, is admitting all unemployed California residents free ... Now that’s the soul of the sawdust....

Express Mail From the House of Ringling (John Ringling North II): What’s this, I wondered, signing my name and wondering if I’d been summoned to appear in court for daring to question his line of showmanship and long-term producing resolve. What came, instead, was a copy of the program magazine. Give JRN II credit for self-promoting from “proprietor” to “Producer.” The latter word appears on the cover. To a paper up in MA, North, now nearly a seasoned trouper, observed, "The recession has helped the circus. People don't get to go to Disney World, so they stay local, and we bring the entertainment to them." And how do they bring it? JRN II seemed almost boyishly gleeful promising, “there will be a lot of mud and a lot of fun.” So now we know ...

Interviewee North II, advancing calmly, it would appear, up the red wagon ladder, claimed that ticket sales are double what they were the last two years. Could that be so? I returned after a long self-imposed hiatus (briefly) to the Copeland & Combs blog to do some spot checking, knowing that Steve tends to tell-all on the number of warm or cold bodies in the seats. From what I gather, houses have fluctuated wildly from "packed" to one that totaled but sixty nine souls. And there was Steve complaining about so many things, fretting contract renewal talks and making it appear as if his sink gag is down the sink because prop hands are lousy plumbers.

Back to the Kelly-Miller program magazine, wherein you’ll discover the relatively modest Mr. North II assuming a more confident air – good photo – but he'll heed to replace the cowboy hat with a JRN Homburg. He offers a cool welcome and the classic closing of his uncle, “Thank you and Au Revoir.” I’ll be waiting and watching to see what he comes out with next year. Already this season comes a big flying trapeze break through for flyer Renato Fernandes , who finally turned a perfect triple into waiting hands! ...

I sat there at the amazingly wonderful Boom A Ring, watching the gorgeous white tiger act while all the while preoccupied with this: okay, but can those cats do what the Casey McCoy hind-leg walking cats do in silky smooth tandem? No they did not. And so onto the next cage display I go. Wanta see if I was right in discovering a wonderful bit in cageland that I can’t recall having seen before. Another tiger trainer, I think, ridiculed me over my McCoy toast ...

Cirque’s naughty parties, feted by billionaire big top mogul Guy Laliberte and attended by the likes of Sir Paul M., about which a book of tasty rumors just hit the shelves, reports Henry of Edgar. The rich with an itch are switching in and out and on and off to sample the rented flesh on display and there for the taking, so go the reports. Mr. L, from what we learn, has a penchant for serial affairs. Hmm, wonder if that K-M party of 69 really was meant for the Lalibere Let's-Get-Acquainted tent? Okay, it’s all so smutty, why should we even be bothered? I’m outta there ... Just give me another good circus, Mr. Producer, and you can have another whatever, but not on me....

Big Apple Wormy: This touted organization, so in love with itself, is woefully lacking in some of the basics, about which I am launching an open-ended rant. They still do not offer a warning on their website that the morning shows are truncated, which meant that when I saw them in East Meadow, I did NOT see Grandma sing or dance, with or without a walker, in the rain. This sort of wilful misinformation borders on fraud, and I just might send back my ticket for a full refund. I do not care how established they are. While on the subject of incredible incompetence, the BAC front door remains amateur night at the circus. Two young people who look like student volunteers puttering as slow as snails. Ringling at Coney, with only one more ticket taker, moved the crowd thru with smooth pro dispatch. Ah, the free market place. I’m a quaint believer in what is left of it. BAC: Anybody from Hugo, Oklahoma could whip your constipated front end into shape within hours. (Photo, above, of Christian Atayde Stoinev, a talented kid who deserves more than a chorous boy role in this show)

Covington Connected, send in the end ringers: Ringling-Barnum to enter Staples Center late by a few hours, deferring to the Michael Jackson Memorial. Rumors that elephants and clowns will join the Jacko wake were nixed by a RBBB spokesperson, stating the circus will not be a part ... That vaguely ambitious horse show down in Texas called most recently Artania has shuttered. When will horse show impresarios wake up to the bleak realities of such ventures? ... CDS indoors. Why oh why are they sending Saltimbanco into arenas? Hurting for cash? Tampa Times performing arts critic John Fleming ruing the loss of a certain spark, missing the tent too ... Calling the acts “lackluster.” ... Baraboo’s “Doc” Dewel chirping in, about to hit his natty nineties and still fingering lightly across the mighty organ keyboard at the Al Ringling Theatre ... Circus World Museum, 50 years old this year, reporting a big bounce in biz, nearly 25% percent more people moving through the gates. Go, CWM! ... Coney Island and Ringling: a Hot dog contest pitting the pachyderms with people ... UniverSoul Circus in Tennessee taking in 84 guns in exchange for circus tickets ...

To Copeland or not to Copeland -- that is NOT the question, David ...

7.2.09

4 comments:

Alan Cabal said...

SALTIMBANCO in arenas is probably no worse than any other retreaded version of the show. I saw the retread ALEGRIA under a tent some years back, and it was a stultifying parody of the brilliant original. It's pure marketing, no art, and it blasphemes the original artists who co-created the various characters with Dragone. SALTIMBANCO without Rene Bazinet is an empty husk, under canvas or not.

Showbiz David said...

that's exactly what i would fear were i to return to one of the cds shows i saw years ago.

Jack Ryan said...

Hi David,

Does the Kelly-Miller program have a Program of Displays, i.e. running order of the show?

During my Ringling days, that was the writing challenge I enjoyed the most. Yes, it was difficult to keep straight and required major revision after the opening for the program's second edition, totally revised with new photos and copy prior to the Garden.

They seem to have abandoned any running order in the last years.

Just wondering.

Best,

Jack

Showbiz David said...

Yes, Jack, remarkably K-M does list the lineup and running order. Credit them for having a program magazine at all, and its classy in a concise way. Many shows no longer carry even a hand out sheet, and even RBBB has not printed a running order for several years.