Clown for a New Day

Clown for a New Day
Dagwood might make it in today's emasculated circus

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

New Big Apple Circus Impresses with Web Graphics, Act Lineup Favoring Old-Line Thrills for Return to Lincoln Center ... No Sign of Paul and Michael, the Clown Care Unit, or a Tour Ahead ...


Well, what do you know, a circus is coming!   Or should I say, is returning? Any news of a circus coming or re-birthing, rebooting or rebounding  in these days of bare lots and banner lines missing in action, is good news.  The Big Apple Circus, under new ownership, is the reason. so let's have a blast of trumpets and a standing ovation even before the first act hits the ring.

New Sarasota-based  owners have been pushing an early ballyhoo that promises maybe more beef than ballet, what with outdoor high wire daredevil Nik Wallenda  topping the marquee.  Under  canvas, he will put up the precarious seven-high pyramid, which is an act fraught with danger, what with the group taking a nasty tumble last year in Sarasota that left several seriously injured.  So far, Nik is sharing top billing with the return of Grandma, the latter, I’d say, the best move these new owners have made so far.  Another reassuring move is the retention of band leader Rob Slowik to oversee music.  Of courses, what he turns out largely rides on the quality of the score he is handed ...

But what else will be the show?  Digging deeper into the Big Apple Circus website,  I found photos of other acts. among whom -- Ammed Tunziani,  photo at top, who flew with Ringling the last four years  and managed to land at least one quad, will be attempting the elusive trick at every Big Apple Performance.  This should give patrons an exciting Big Moment to look forward to. Unlike with the seven-high, audiences can enjoy the flying exploits stress-free, over the traditional net.  I stress stress free because I think circus audiences have become more accustomed to acts veering away from obvious severe danger.



Other turns include the Anastani brothers, above, with an Icarian display; juggler Gamal Garcia Tuniziani, contortionist Elayne Kramer, an African Russian Bar exhibition, and Jenny Vidbel's animals.  Her bohemian barnyard a few years back, which I was lucky to catch (remember -- a skunk and /or rodent and other oddball critters?) marked a high point in circus animal act training; and roller skaters Dandino and Luciano.  Along with Grandma, Joel Jeske to stir up additional giggles and guffaws. To be directed by Mark Lonegran, who staged last year’s Grand Tour.

Will the seven-high make a bigger or smaller impact in so small a setting? The act was born in the late 1940s, when circus shows commanded multiple rings and thousands of seats.   I saw it as a kid on the Polack show, to this day the most memorable moment in my circus-going life.  But those were different times.


Given the scope and athletic daring-do of outdoor reality TV, somehow I don't see the seven-high having the same impact as in did in days gone by.   When the Felds presented the seven high, they rigged it over an end ring, hardly a statement of pride or stature.  The night I attended the show, act was a no-show, due to a recent mishap.

We are about to witness a difficult transition.  New owners pledged to continue Big Apple Circus traditions established by Paul and Michael, but I see modest evidence of  this. Website has a "Giving Back to the Community" list of free charitable shows, etc, though no mention of the Clown Care Unit.  Nonetheless, what they have done so far looks promising.  “New York to the core,” proclaims new promo and ad copy.   Let’s hope the tour -- or one-date stand -- ahead will be a grander one.

Cry, Clown, Cry: In a  recent,very moving issue of Circus Report, two bitter-sweet accounts, one by fan Alex Smith from Providence,  the other by former Ringling clown Andrew Rose, at Nasseau, of watching the last Ringling performances.  Had I been there to see one of them, I might have cried all the way through.   Ringling-Barnum encapsulates so much American circus history!  I still say it shouldn’t have happened ... Anybody know how well the Melha Shrine did this year when they brought back the elephants?  Did the missing crowds who complained of their absence actually return?  I google the question, and come up with nothing.
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END RINGERS: Have I got some goodies:  Blood bath at New England Center for Circus Arts: Seems that a few professors have quit, some students have walked, over recent firing of co-founders, twin sisters Elsie Smith and Serenity Smith Forchion.  Ugly scene only getting uglier.  My own lingering questions remain: Whatever comes out of this all, will this school or any other school in this country EVER produce top-flight circus acts? Pardon my indiscretion ... Kenneth Feld’s great love for the elephants included his own elephant compound, all along, I suspected, mainly a PR ploy to counter PETA and other animal groups forcing him into courtrooms.  Now there's word that it’s probably going to be phased out, that some elephants may be up for sale.  Are you surprised? ... .... America's got circus, too!  Hey, Mr. Producer:  How about booking a star turn off America's Got Talent?   Circus action fairly dominated the first half hour of a recent special featuring the judges favorite acts from the season so far.  Millions of Americans watch this show.  Knock!  Knock!  Anybody get my drift?  Some hints ...




1 comment:

Showbiz David said...

Lisa, BAC:

I have your posting, but I can't post only part of it. If you wish to resubmit without the part you did not want posted, feel free.