Saturday, March 08, 2008

Laugh Those Rumors Away ... Beat of the Big Tops Goes On ...

Here's looking back at a happier time ...

From Vargas to Kelly-Miller
, New Cole to Nicole, Big Apple to Big Carson & Barnes, they’re all out there pitching tents or getting ready to hit the sawdust trails with optimism ... “Hello, Showbiz David, “ e-mails upbeat Vargas VP Katya Quiroga. “Thanks for your honest opinions and good and bad reviews of the show.” Now that takes a touch of class. I’m reading on. “We here at Circus Vargas strive to create the best show and experience for our customers possible, and we take all customer comments serious.” Glad to know a new season faces you, Katya. Promises she with the sort of optimism I respect, “We have completely redone the 2008 edition of Circus Vargas, and we have created it to be more exciting and fun for the entire family.” Now, why do I believe that? Guess I’m an optimist, too. Gotta give ‘em credit for taking on the chin the grudging 2-star review I gave em last year. May God bless your big top, Katya & Company, and may it be spared my fussiness. But, oh, your tent itself was such a pleasure to enter. Please don’t bring it too close. Just being inside it inspired enchanting memories of a Ringling big top from long long ago ...

Another believer is John Ringling North II, returning to whistle in his second season producing the Kelly-Miller program. Opening date is March 15. The real Ringling was tinkering with a storyline for a certain production number. Guess the theory is, give the audience at least the illusion of modernity, so they can, once having swallowed their broccoli, indulge, guilt-free, in cotton candy and all of the other circus essentials... .About which, end ringing it around the subject, to narrate or not to narrate seems to be turning Nicole Feld's press interviews into mushy yes but no but yes sessions. To the Knoxville News, talking up her Boom A Ring on the Gold Unit, she said that audiences didn’t much like “the narrative driven, one ring circus” idea, that it was “abandoned.” But wait, in another fuzzy disclosure, we are told that “a story line links the traditional circus acts” of Boom A Ring. And that makes for a Boom A Headache. PLEASE, circus world, make up your minds. ... Okay, I kind of feel your marketing vacillations, Ms. Feld. They remind me of your dad’s — all over the sawdust...

.... More basic, I think is New Cole or Old Cole or Beatty-Cole or Cole Bros. basically out there again, about to open in Deland on April 1 and move up the coast through the Carolinas. And that means that John Pugh, long rumored to be wanting to sell, is still not selling. Good news. A head shrink once domestic partnered to a late friend of mine said, “People do what they want to do.” And so I say, if Johnny really wanted to sell, he would have sold by now.

Not selling but going for three-ring endurance gold is Barbara Byrd, whose Carson & Barnes big top will not be shrinking down like the others any season soon. ... The grand lady of grand American tradition just flouted all those one-ring rumors by ordering another huge spread of plastic, a 160 by 300 top assumed to be ready for the 2009 season, and ready for the show’s 75th anniversary run in 2011 ... Memo to Ms. Byrd: Please, bring back some live musicians. Byrd v. Petrillo?... Hey, there’s a spirited bunch of Sottish amateurs who call themselves the Really Terrible Orchestra. Why not they during, say, the clown turns and the hula hoop fillers? Bring back the windjammers, and I’ll nominate you our first true American Circus Queen. ...

Baraboo, time to wake up! Are you there, Bob Dewel? I can see you getting ready for another season of Al Ringling Theatre tours. More than once during the winter, I’ve imagined you, good Doc, tip toeing across snowy streets through the village of Ringling, tapping gently on windows, a la Winkle, calling out “Are the children in their beds?” ... Time now, Wee Willy Dewel, to wake them up. The Circus is coming!

First posted Mach 8, 2008

10 comments:

henry edgar said...

david -- there is a video of circus at disney world on ebay ending today that includes juggler anthony gato. if you miss it, it's a bobby hakes auction, and you can get a copy from him.

Showbiz David said...

Henry, I recently discovered the Hakes video website. What an impressive collection, or so it appears. How are they? I am particularly interested in Ringling 1959 and 1968. Thanks for whatever feedback you can give me on this.

Wade G. Burck said...

Showbiz,
The quality at time's is questionable given a lot are copied off old 8mm film, and/or a copy of a copy. Same with the sound quality occasionally. All in all, not to bad, as they do record "the good old day's" for posterity. I would suggest a free copy to artist's depicted, as I assume a lot were
bootlegged initially, would be a kind gesture.
Wade Burck

Anonymous said...

Someday when I win Lotto, after my world cruise I will consider buying one of every one of the Bobby Hakes videos,and since most of them aren't under copyright digitizing them and putting them on youtube. Amazing collection of what once was.

Showbiz David said...

May you win the lotto and I will be the first to sing your anonymous praises. Go, You Tube Circus!

henry edgar said...

david, as everyone else says, some are very good, some are so so and some are wretched. i tend to buy them if there is an act i want to see. the more recent ones are usually better, but most were shot by fans. i have one with some great shots of pinto del oro on beaty cole and most of the ringling tv specials and circus of the stars are available and look really good. there's a great circus daredevil superstars video with elvin bale, tito gaono, the carillo brothers and ursula bottcher.

joey ratliff said...

I have bought 6 videos from Mr. Hakes and like everyone else I agree that they are about a 7 on the scale. BUT the history that is contained inhis collection is well worth taking chance! I am about to buy his cat trainers video that has a Terrell Jacobs act on it that I need to see.
Hey Wade, I found a clip of Martin Lacy Jr. on youtube the other night! It is less than two minutes but good stuff. It is titled "the great martin lacy jr". Thanks.

Joey

Showbiz David said...

Thanks, Joey, for your recommendation I am about to order something. Just seems a little steeply priced...

Paul H. said...

Some very interestng things happening this season (and hopefully in seasons to come) with the Hugo-based shows.

First, Carson & Barnes is including Florida in its spring itinerary. Perhaps a first for a Hugo show. Or if not, the first Florida dates in many, many years. Also, C&B is making a coast-to-coast tour (or at least very close to that) in '08.

Second, in conjunction with the 2009 revival of the Great Circus Parade in Milwaukee, Kelly Miller will produce the big top performances at the lakefront in the days prior to the big parade. JRN II is going to show his stuff!

Showbiz David said...

Yo! A lot of people out here lined up at my concession stand. That's Ringling tingling news, Paul, about JRNII playing the Great Circus Parade. okay, here's more tea-free junk food, on me... Non-organic old fashioned candy apples, anyone?