And a happier Sunday Morning to you!
At last, a ray of sunshine over our winter of discontent! Big Apple Circus sold at auction to Sarasota- based Compass Partners. They are said to have made a "compelling case to revive the circus performances consistent with the
original Big Apple Circus mission and values (italics mine) serving family audiences
in NYC and on tour, sensitive to accessibility and to differently abled
That word "original" gives me hope that they will follow a more practical, fiscally disciplined course. And if they do, here is what to look for: What you don't want to hear is "We saved the Lincoln Center date!" Far too costly. What you do want to hear is something more like: "We saved the circus! And we're going to open in the spring, under the big top, and spend more time in New York's city parks."
My pushy prescription for the best chance at a viable comeback: (1) The new owners should take complete control of the management end, and impose a tight control on sane affordable budgeting; (2) they should bring back Paul Binder and Michael Christensen and hand them complete artistic control, subject to budgetary restraints; And (3) what better, more celebratory way to herald the return of New York's own circus than by bringing back its most enduring symbol --- Grandma? Loved by New Yorker's, her reinstatement would score great good will, guaranteed to boost ticket sales. This assumes that Barry Lubin may have to accept a humbler compensation package. The days of bureaucrat bloat must come to an end. Big Apple Circus has been something of a national treasure. There are many good reasons favoring its return.
Now, onto Cole Bros. Circus: Maybe Johnny Pugh needs to put his show up for auction, too --- at the flea market now holding court on his winter quarters. Only kidding! I know this: If Johnny does go back on the road and persists in presenting wild animals acts, he hasn't got a chance in hell of making nut -- before he drives himself nuts. Sorry, but that's a reality of trouping along the the very blue eastern seaboard.
Will the public return while there are still circuses to see? A good omen on the Ramos Bros. lot in Yucca Valley east of L.A, where, now down to dog acts: They opened to socko biz, customers lined up clear around the block. Might this be a sign that reasonable, free-thinking Americans, saddened by the shocking collapse of our nation's most revered big top, will show up in higher numbers to make a statement of support for those that remain? That they understand the circus to be too special a tradition to lose? Or, am I talking myself into a fit of cockeyed optimism?
Circus Vargas's Katya Quiroga telling the Los Angeles Times that business over the past few seasons has moved upward by between 3 and 6 percent. That about jives with what I saw when I took in the show last year. Not a big crowd, but a bigger crowd. I do think they make a big mistake by having no animals at all.
Remember Ringling? Out of This World -- or I should say In This Word -- drew a qualified rave from Theoden Jane in the Charlotte Observer, full of praise for the acts, left yawning over its narrative excursions into space. "The filler, meanwhile, I can do without. For instance, there’s a new story line pitting ringmaster Johnathan Lee Iverson and 'Intergalactic Queen Tatiana' against each other in a battle for circus stars and some sort of magic telescope, but while they play their parts with relish, I just couldn’t get excited about it and I saw lots of kids fidgeting during plot-heavy sections that served as breaks in the action."
A timeless magic universally shared: And then Jane wrote something so wonderfully true about the circus, let's end this happy (or happier) post on it:
"There’s one other unexpected thing I’ll miss about the circus, one other thing I noticed as I waited in line to get in, as I settled into my seat, and again as I headed to the exits after the lights came up at the end: Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey is a remarkably unifying spectacle.
"Yes, on Wednesday night at uptown’s Spectrum Center, I saw something that I don’t see nearly as often as I’d like to in Charlotte: a rich mix of races, colors, religions, creeds, sexes, sexual orientations and ages — all being entertained under one roof at the same time.
"In what’s become a shockingly divisive time in our country’s history, losing a piece of popular culture that promotes so much wonder and awe among such a diverse crowd is a loss for America indeed"
Truer words were never spoken. God save the circus!