Sunday, January 15, 2017
MIDWAY FLASH! ... MIDWAY FLASH! ... Ringling Folds for Good, Last Shows in May ... Feld Blames Retiring Elephants for Plunging Ticket Sales ...
It must be some kind of a sick joke, I thought, waking up this morning to find on my computer a link from my brother Dick, proceeded by a short note -- "Sorry about that!" -- to a story that Ringling-Barnum is closing down for good and will give its final performances in May in Providence, Rhode Island, May 7, and Uniondale, New York, at the Nassau County Coliseum. May 21.
Some kind of a joke? But no, in another e-mail, this one from Don Covington, came a link to a statement from CEO Kenneth Feld, coming clean on how, since removing the elephants, business has plunged even deeper.
The total collapse of the Greatest Show on Earth? I never could have imagined living to see this. For one reason, the circus is owned by a billionaire.
And, just after landing nation-wide press over the hiring of the circus's first ringmistress in its history?
I still have a hard time believing it.
A while back, I reported on the fall of two of the nation's big three, the two being Big Apple Circus and Cole Bros. Circus.
And, now, the third one has fallen, too. It is so unreal, I feel almost nothing. Perhaps I am in denial.
I never thought I would live to see this. What I've been thinking lately is that they could well phase out one of the two units, and keep only one on the road, even in a truncated operation, no train but trucks. Smaller show. The Feld one-ring unit that played Coney Island (first one to play it) was simply terrific.
Can you believe that the Felds are effectively out of the circus business?
Am I lost in a sick dream?
Is this fake news?
Is there more to the story? The incredible abruptness of Kenneth Feld's sudden decision is itself a rather incredible act. One might wonder what, if anything, possible infra-family squabbles had to do with it.
More to come as I sort out my thoughts. Meanwhile, ALL of your thoughts are welcome here. Please do share ...
BTW: I will be posting a piece by James Royal, this week, about his thoughts on the challenges facing today's circus owners.
With the Ringling exit, count the year 2016 as the worst in American circus history.