Thursday, June 16, 2016

Big Tops on the Brink: Ringling Puts Circus on Ice ... Big Apple Passes the Hat ... Cole on a Slow Roll to the Bitter End?

UPDATE, 6/18/16, 7:24 am:  Latest on the Cole opera:  Show to go out as King Cole in July, opening in Jacksonville NC and offering more rides, food and pre-show activities in a "fun zone."  About the latter, you heard it first here from Agent X, on the posting below.

Revolutionary Rambles: iRingling down in Florida putting the cast on ice in rehearsals for its new post-pachyderm gamble, says AP story advanced my way by Ken Dickinson.   The Felds, struggling to recapture iPhone junkies, plan to lure them into the show with apps allowing for broadcast of selfie sharing during the performance and interactivity between patrons and performers.  Ice skaters and motor sports into the mix. It’s a new world, says Alana Feld to the press, promising what looks to be a radical departure from all other amusements; I mean, would you prefer attending a musical, play, or movie while others around you are fiddling with and jabbering over their  the gadgets in hand? ...  It’s the over ice part that gives me grave pause.  Then again, that misty white sheet does open one’s imagination to the outer space theme.  Show heads for the cosmos down in LA, mid July.  I’m tempted to be there for the launch.
Johnny Pugh’s Cole Bros Circus, now owned by Dick Garden, is holding firm on common ground.  The status quo stubbornly on parade, what with wild animals returning.  The Garden free ticket blitz may improve on crowd size.  Question may be, how weaker might the actual performance be?  Poster art promises more Pugh than Garden.  Maybe between the two disparate souls, there may be a decent middle ground.  Affordable mediocrity is not such a bad thing, not that is, to the eyes of a toddler tickling to a circus show for the first time. And, yes, the writing of this feels totally hollow, given counter currents pointing to a Dead End, as witness what follows ...

Facing the Truth on Facebook? Here's what you will find on Facebook's Clyde Beatty and Cole Bros. Tribute Page: "A historic page that pays homage to an iconic show that no longer exists.  Please mo messages that are negative and no more questions about a route.  This show is gone but not forgotten.  It still lives in our hearts for those who lived it and loved it...Thank you..The Management!" ... Now this touched me.  You'll find plenty of photos that will bring back favored memories of your days at the show.  Here's one of Johnny Pugh in 1971.  Oh, we were all young once! 

The last Grand Tour for Big Apple Circus? New York's own begging for 2 million bucks from private donations in order to keep its date at Lincoln Center, the rental tab alone a  harsh half million.  New York Times bleeding bias in advocacy reporting, story pushing BAC charity angles and art purity — show favoring “artistry over vulgarity.” (Guess whose – read on).  Reporter Ginia Bellafanote failing to come clean on actual attendance figures, fewer bodies in the seats?  That’s another issue too unpleasant perhaps to report. But what gives away blatant NYT bias is Bellafante’s implicit pitting of Big Apple's nobler artistic standards  against “the mayhem of Ringling,” the latter show owned and operated by, in case you do not know –  “billionaire Kenneth Feld.”  Mayhem?  Really?  Ringling and Big Apple go for the same world class acts , but Ringling manages to pull in thousands more customers for a typical show.  Does that make Ringling “vulgar”?    I’ve yet to hear of Ringling begging for public donations or working Wall Street’s greedy TICS (Thieves-in-Chief--yes, you heard it here first) for funding bail-outs.

 Will the man in red have a job next season?

Pardon me for feeling okay about the free Market.  I’m all for BAC going on — I’ve gone on record as a fan of the show, but two of the last shows that I saw left a lot to be desired.  The very idea that BAC needs “another $11.5 million to produce the circus each year" is  ludicrous.  How many people did it take, couple of years back, to put on a show that was going to be live-streamed into hundreds of movie houses, nationwide, and fail to have bodies in more than maybe a third of the seats?  How many? All of which promoted my brother Dick, who watched the show in a Utah movie house, with one other person – his wife — to declare, “You’re watching a loser.”   A key issue the Times story failed to address: Why can’t this show attract larger crowds as once it did?  Maybe it’s the public’s declining taste for circus? Or maybe a bloated and bumbling Big Apple Circus organization, itself perhaps the biggest of all charity cases.  Maybe the Times will fork over a nice clean $1 mil.  So far, show has raised half a million, and that's not bad.  When it comes to soliciting,
they are pros.

END RINGERS: Boffo early biz for Cirque du Soleil’s  Paramour down a bit since bum reviews hit the streets. Another new CDS property, Tourk – The First Flight, pulling in tepid notices ...  Historical relief may be on the way!  From Don Covington comes  news that Circus 1903 is promising to "recreate a turn of the twentieth century circus" in a nationally touring theater show.  Premiere set for LA in February. Another reason to go down there again ... Carson & Barnes, without admitting wrongdoing, agreed to fork up a $16, 000 fine for putting its elephants in dangerous proximity to  customers ...  Lastly, on the passing of Pete Cristiani, I once worked for the man  (and for the lovely Norma), but only for six weeks on Wallace Bros., too thin-skinned to be truly “with it and for it.” I would forever after think of Pete as the Robert Mitchum of the big Top.  Once, while passing me on the midway during set up with a sledgehammer in my hand (if you can believe that), he called me Snow Cone.  Okay, maybe a job description upgrade from Hot Dog?

I feel very sad posting this. In my boyhood, when the Clyde Beatty Circus came to town, I got to climb up into one of the bed reg wagons, to help hoist seating parts over the edge and down onto the ground.  And to help raise the sidewall.  I was given a ticket that got me into the sideshow, and into both performances of the big show that day.  Sat on hard planks and thrilled to the wonder of it all.  Gone are those days we once so easily enjoyed. 


Harry Kingston said...

I just got news that Cole Bros cannot get the Mexican tent crew in and is cancelling more start dates.
Will Cole ever get out of the barn to get down the circus trail.
Ok lets say they start in July and what kind of a season will that be that will be 5 or 6 months and to me they will have to play into 2017 to break even.
I am hoping they make it and have a good season when they ever come out.
My mother took me to see the 1956 second season Beatty railroad circus and I did not know then, I was seeing history being made then.
My heart lies with the tent circuses that are left today.
You got to make the nut.
Harry in Texas

Showbiz David said...

Well put, Harry

And thanks for info.

Harry Kingston said...

Well I just saw on the computer that King Cole Circus is coming out on July 8th for sure up East till November.
I wish them luck.
Harry in Texas

Harry Kingston said...

Just saw Garden Bros here in town and what a very good performance that had and they had a packed house for the 4:30 performance.
They made the nut here the first performance.
I had a great time visiting with the show folks and was treated great and no complaints here.
When the Carson and Barnes leased elephants came out here in town they got applause
before and after the performance by Anthony Frisco.
So locals want to see elephants in a circus.
I heard King Cole will be on 10 trucks.
And if the performance is on par with what I saw on Garden Bros it ought to be great.
I had a great visit with Zack Garden and hope the circus comes back as they have always made money here in town.
Harry in Texas