Carson and Barnes Circus, in the 1960s

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Big Top Bits: Kelly-Miller Shines North ... Don Stacey Doesn't ...

From the first year posting ...

"It’s Showtime!" — and away we go at the new Kelly-Miller Circus produced by first-of-May showman John Ringling North II. "It’s Showtime" is the title of the opening production number, a chivari of sorts, or so I am told by manager Jim Royal who has been sending me, in glacially slow doses, program details bit by bit. A would-be archaeologist I have become, digging patiently away --- one pick at a time ... Bit by bit, into focus here we go:

From Mexico to Asia hail Kelly-Miller’s artists in the 18-act layout. Other production flourishes: A return of the North Starlets, down to an affordable foursome who glide around the cloud swing work of Jennifer Nichole. And a red, white and blue climax that fills the tent with flaring flags and confetti drops. Manager Jim stands by smiling "It does my heart good to go into the tent at finale and hear the reaction of our audiences. They are very pleased with the performance."

Has the show a star? Royal tells me that North, who booked all the new acts himself, was "particularly impressed" with contortionist Sai Zhang. "He was right. She gets a great response from the audiences." Bit by bit ...

The first act ever signed by North? The Rosales Family. More to follow from the trenches of Hugo ... Next to come: a complete rundown of the entire performance! I have it, kids...

Sunshine & Shadows: The Big Apple’s Maria Parra, who works dogs for Johnny Peer, is one of 30 Under 30's Picks for 2006. Says, Maria at 28, "I’m learning that you don’t have to go to every party. You don’t have to meet every single person" .... Big Apple Circus, by the way, is hauling in some adoring notices after opening to a New York Times rave last November ... Death stalks the sawdust — a Leitzel replay? Tragically, 35-year-young aerialist Roberto Valenzuela fell to his end while performing on Circo Hermanos Vazques in L.A., and maybe through no fault of his own artistry. Investigations point to rigging failure, and how often that, sadly, is the case ... Circus News.Com is following this story ... Stay out of Connecticut, circus with animals! That’s the intent of one chilly bill (HB 7019) moving through an unfriendly legislature. And if it passes, let the public suffer ... About my circus website ratings, Joan Hart of Circus Vargas e-mailed me: "We were thrilled with your favorable comments." One of the tidy little things about the Vargas site that I like is their concise listing of acts, specially from where they come. Thank God for places like Italy and Chile and Holland and Spain – well you get the picture. Keep spoiling us, World, please ... See the photo, on the sidebar, of North II and Royal I, taken in a revealing flash by Beverly Royal? Now that’s what the theatre calls "character delineation... The ever-resilient Zoppes, led by Alberto, are out with their first newsletter, and it oozes warm Italian charm, complete with Mama’s Recipe ... Go there and be embraced by one of Spangeland’s Great Circus Families ...

http://www.zoppe.net/newsletter.html

And here comes Englishman Don Stacey, raising high once more the Irvin Feld banner ... Go, Don, I feel your Piccadilly pain! Stacey continues to rant against the truth of what really happened. And I’m back on Stacey’s stage, and, gosh, I feel perversely flattered. A reference to me kicks off Stacey’s article about Circus World for the latest issue of King Pole ... As usual, I come off as the guy who loves John North (the original) and hates Irvin Feld, whereas Stacey loves Feld and doesn’t love North.

... I know there are many sincere Irvin Feld fans out there (and I respect them all) who may believe that Feld was actually the better showman. Feld as savior? There, I draw a line. Stacey — going near ballistic this time out — writes, "I am inclined to agree with those who feel that Feld and his family were indeed, the people who saved the oldest and biggest traveling circuses from annihilation" Bombs over the big top, Don? How about turning your radar onto how the Felds have tried to annihilate John Ringling North and Arthur Concello out of circus history?

The nuances, England, the nuances. Here, Don, is what you will find on page 299 of my book, Big Top Boss, concerning my take at one point on Feld's showmanship: "In the mid-1970s the greatest show on earth was as aggressively promoted as it had ever been, with Gunther Gebel Williams at the dazzling forefront of a glamorous and modern Ringling ballyhoo that captured the American public’s fancy." ... To a corner please, go, there to recite that sentence a thousand times over ... The two of us in vaudeville, Don? I could hoof a tad ...

Stacey, who handled publicity for North’s 1963-64 European tour and loathed every performance he was by contract obligated to promote, concedes that he never saw a Ringling circus in America produced by JRN. Hmm, how interesting ...

I’m back at Kelly-Miller digging for the truth, bit by bit ... And that’s a Royal wrap ...

First posted May 5, 2007

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