Going Nuclear at Garden Bros. Circus Can Be Crazy Fun, Or So It Seems ...

Going Nuclear at Garden Bros. Circus Can Be Crazy Fun,  Or So It Seems ...
Kijome Hara with the World’s Smallest Man and Wini McCay

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Spider-Man Co-Star Deserts Problem-Plagued Musical on Broadway: How Many Other Imperiled Performers May Follow?

News today, out of the Wall Street Journal, that Spider-Man co-star Natalie Mendoza will be leaving the musical, long in trouble. She is still recovering from a concussion she sustained after a fall during the first preview performance at the Foxwoods Theatre. Show's opening was set back a month, to February 7. Three other performers have been injured. Stunt man Christopher Tierney, a close friend of Natalie's, was taken to hospital after a fall, and underwent back surgery. He is now in recovery mode.

Mendoza is not talking. Lawyers said to be hammering out an exit package. This was to have been Mendoza's first appearance in a Broadway house.

It's a a sad sad story from many angles. Cast was reported "demoralized" over injuries, resentful of director Julie Taymor, deemed coldly indifferent to safety issues.

Comments left on one website are in hissing lockstep uniformly negative, either asking how many more actors will suffer injuries or worse and/or claiming that a big turkey is clucking the boards, and it's time to apply the knife.

But not all patrons are grousing, and the troubled tuner has been drawing near full houses. Some patrons have expressed great pleasure in the production.

Will Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark actually reach an opening night panel of NY critics -- perhaps the ultimate peril it faces?
[Photo of Natlie Mendoza with her Spider-Man co-star Reeve Carney. by Bruce Gilkas/FilmMagic]

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Big Top Bits: Oz Flashes Flesh: Feld Folds Coney Canvas for Brooklyn’s Barclays ... Vargas Lands Prod.Placement in Water for Elephants Tease

If all else fails, Strip! Here comes yet a more "nude, rude and lewd" edition of that robustly risque little indoor trick I can live without, Circus Oz, from Down Under. And I do mean under. Show touting a "dropped" costume budget resulting in rising hemlines. Wonder if their horny little robot dog is still around, hoping and groping, jumping and humping. You can read up on that critter right here on the previous post (a look-back item slotted here by sheer coincidence before this Oz release vamped my way, thanks to cyber courier Don Covington ... Actually, you might have to fly Over There to see the scantly clad half-talented acrobats who make up this in-your-face cabaret of cross-dressers, doped-out S&M-ers and every other what-not under the fading sun. Laughing while she spoke, said director Anni Davey "We've said to the performers they can only have one costume and you can wear as much or as little of it as you like." Oh, they are soooo cutting edge. Might they be a tad desperate for more action at the ticket window? And the tent for this one, called the Blue Show, seats only 250. Yeah, you're correct, nudity sells. Even the great sentimentalist Oscar Hammerstein II once said, "the only thing people are really interested in is sex."

And then there was Cirque Berzerk, down there in Tinseltown, pitching on a website that nearly set my smoke alarm off. This year, offering a "darker, sexier" show. Guess they, too, can't make it on whatever talents they have. Just when I was ready to catch another troupe of modern-thinking sleazoids under a real tent, they have apparently ditched the canvas -- or plastic -- for Club Nokia in downtown Los Angeles. I saw tickets priced over $300. Wonder if that comes with a little Club Nooky on the side? Remember when, once upon a season, women who dared to appear in sawdust rings were lumped together with ladies who lived in shady hotel rooms over brawling bars? Full circle we may have come. Now if you have a problem with my blogging, blame Don up there. (All kidding aside, I have Don of Covington to thank for so many interesting items he sends my way.)

Feld folds Canvas over Coney? That seems the likely story line to be. Big splash about Ringling-Barnum already booked to perform in the new 18,000 seat Barclays Center, now rising over Brooklyn down by Atlantic Yards in Prospect Heights. Performances then "expected to rival similar Ringling" shows seen at the Garden. To be "much more extravagant than the circus's popular one-ring tent show that performed the past two summers" by the boardwalk. Why does that sound like an ignorant insult to me, and why do I already feel deserted by a higher grade of Feld-produced circus entertainment? The best things in life might not last. I'm so worn out by the relentless sledgehammer showmanship of Feld Entertainment, I may skip the Big Show's visit out here next summer. And take in a Dick Garden production instead.

Big Promo Break for Circus Vargas: Call this the Cream of Covington: Video of a Water for Elephants movie trailer now sending promising sparks onto computer screens. In this particular tease (there are others not so on-point or arresting), you see the Vargas front door, wagons and signage. Clearly. Good going, Vargas! An older gent appears (wonder how many summers before I'm him?), in a reminiscent mood, perhaps about to share the story of his life. Says he was with Benzini Bros. Circus in 1931. That's when "the most famous circus disaster of all time" occurred. OK, I'm tentatively hooked on what I saw, just hoping we are not about to witness another circus disaster in the making. Other Water teasers I cruised got stranded off the lot in fancy ballrooms and back of the track hotel rooms, with woozy ballads hardly from the thirties mucking up the must. Oh, let's go somewhere else, it was looking and feeling so authentically good for a while. Woody Allen, that's who, should direct a circus flick, one as rich and good as his masterful flick, Radio Days ...

God Bless the Pope, I suppose: He was recently feted by acrobats from Fratelli Pelligrini, who "took off their shirts." Well aware of certain scandals surrounding this beleaguered church of a thousand illicit confessions, I'd better leave that alone and be on my way ...

Finally, Doc Bob Dewel of Baraboo chirping in to tell me that Circus World Museum's fformidable library now has a new librarian, he being Pete Shrake, a one-time "head mojo" at the Sauk County Historical Society, with a particular fondness for Civil War re-enactments. Let's see, what type of circus wagon came out of that era. Drats! Not the Thimble Theatre fun house.

Friday, December 24, 2010

My Warmest Christmas Greetings to All ... Holiday Lights from My Own Backyard

Images I snapped of the Fourth Annual Holiday Circle of Lights at the Mountain View Cemetery in Oakland, and easy stroll from where I live (not in the cemetery).

Thursday, December 23, 2010

On the Spider-Man Watch: Under New Safety Rules, Actors Can Arbitrarily Stop Show If they Feel Endangered; NYT Questions Show's Circus Push ...

From reports today in The New York Times, stunt aerial actors using harnesses (mechanics, I assume) must first be vocally certified as being properly rigged and attached to the lifelines by two or three stage staffers, and they themselves must give a thumbs up before the stage manager can authorize each flight.

They have also been given the authority to arbitrarily and suddenly stop the show if they sense rigging problems or danger in the air.

In a two-hour cast meeting at which director Julie Taymor took questions, a "demoralized" company questioned why they had not been give more tech rehearsals.

A Times editorial questioned the unconventionally complex production, expressing a degree of apprehension that it may not be suitable for the stage. "....this production may represent the point at which legitimate theater lumbers into terrain that belongs to the circus."

Show was reported ready to resume performances as of tonight.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Dangerous Nights on Broadway: "Accident Prone" Spider-Man Musical Should Mandate Hard Hats for Orchestra Seats -- And That's No Joke

"If Spider-Man makes it out of previews," cracked TV personality David Holmes, "it will be the leading cause of death in the state of New York."

"Please pray with me for my friend, Chris, " said one of the show's stars, Natalie Mendoza, referring to stunt double Christopher Tierney, who during a Monday night show, fell 30 feet to the stage when a rope attached to his sailing body suddenly malfunctioned.

When Tierney went down, "you started to hear people screaming in the pit," recounted Christine Bord, a balcony ticket holder.

The seriously injured actor was ambulanced off. Shortly after, customers were sent home.

Taken to Bellvue Hospital, Tierney was reported to have suffered only minor injuries. But a report in The New York Times had the hospital listing him in serious condition.

Producers conferred this morning with various labor officials and Actor's Equity reps to rethink safety measures for immediate implementation.

"It is clear that we need to give the team more time to fully execute their vision," conceded lead producer Michale Cohl.

Commenting on the problem plagued previews that have caused at least three other injuries so far, including a brain concussion, actor Jesse Tyler Ferguson shared his own fears: "I'm torn between wanting to see 'Spiderman" on Broadway and not wanting to see someone literally die doing musical theatre."

TV hosts have been making hay with Spider-Man jokes.

And what had the mayor of New York city to say about all this? "Hopefully, they'll get all the bugs out, sighed an apparently unphased Michael Bloomberg. "I'm told it's phenomenally complex, which is one of the reason's that it's going to be such a great show. We do have certain laws to make things safe, and we will certainly enforce the laws."

The production has been under skeptical radar for weeks by the federal Occupational and Health Administration. Their monitoring will only intensify, said OSHA spokesman John Chavez. Among actions being taken by the agency are employee interviews, examination of equipment and records kept to determine if fed safety laws are being flouted.

There are those thrill seekers who will no doubt flock to this eerie extravaganza. How many of them, however, will relish sitting directly under all of the action? Were I to go, I'd sit way up in there in the Gods; no way would I put myself in harm's way, out in the priciest seats where I could get dumped up by unscripted mishaps.

Will Spider-Man even make it to opening night, February 7? Can it ever be a safe work of art? I once built a model roller coaster, and am still every few years trying to make it a perfect operation; it never has been and likely never will. The troubling travails of this Julie Taymor-conceived work, ominously overloaded with impractical stunts requiring the rigging of a three-ring big top, remind me of my own reliably imperfect creation. One audience member injured and this show is off the boards.

In order to make back its $65 million investment, the company will have to play to sold-out crowds for several years. I'll make my own chancy prediction: Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark will be in the dark within 7-8 months, all of its money wasted.

Perhaps there should be a license to practice circus on Broadway. Clearly, Spider-Man's staff would flunk out.

[Material for this post was drawn from the AP report by John Carucci and Tom McElroy]

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Spider-Man, Oh Spider-Man! RU Stuck and Sinking in Cobwebs of Catastrophic Confusion? ... Show Delays Opening by a Month for Frantic Revamps ...

Sony Pictures Imageworks/AP/AP
Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, now in previews at the Foxwoods Theatre, guaranteed at least to set one new all-time record -- most number of previews before opening night, assuming new opening night on February 7 actually happens.

Book writers Julie Taymor, who also directs, and Glen Berger, said to be grasping all tweeters and twits and Yelps! from every which source, desperate to understand how to fix a problem-plagued second act. Daily dialogue rewrites in the works. Seems that Ms. Taymor veered seriously off course in her after-intermission scripting fantasies, concocting her own plots not convincingly connected to Spider-Man lore, causing grave audience discontent.

As of this moment, to nobody's knowledge has a script doctor yet been called in. Script doctors on occasion have been credited for turning sick song and dancers into at least half-way functioning song and dancers, some of them surprising hits. It's all in the cobwebs.

Incredibly, according to a reports gleaned from Bloomberg and The New York Times, the composing team of U2's Bono and The Edge, currently on tour outside the States (possibly to escape Gotham embarrassments) has not yet even seen the show in previews. They are expected to join the company in a week or so, huddle in consultations, and "perhaps" compose some additional tunes.

Are they rearranging the chairs on the Titanic? Have we here another Banana Shpeel?

Spider-Man is said to contain spectacular aerial work never before seen in a Broadway musical. As of late November, there were reported to be "35 aerial flights in the production."

Cutting edge and injury-causing, too. Natalie Mendoza back on the boards last Wednesday night, having recovered during a two week absence from a concussion she suffered backstage during the kick-off preview.

Previous holder of the most previews was Nick & Norah, the monumental flop of 1991, which ran a total of 71 try-out performances before it officially opened while robust revisions were interpolated by the show's Tony Award-winning director, Arthur Laurents. All for naught. Nick & Norah finally uncorked on December 8, 1991, was pelted on by a slew of nasty reviews, and was history a week later.

Cirque du Soleil failed to capture the stage. Can Spider-Man capture the circus?

Ah, Broadway! You rarely let us down, whether producing blockbusters -- or bombs.

Reeve Carney as Peter Parker and ensemble rehearsing a number in the show. Photo by Jacob Cohl, from culture.wnyc.org

Saturday, December 11, 2010

OUT OF THE PAST: Some "Made Nut," Others Went Nuts... Jackpots & Juice, Rumors & Rackets & Rickety Revivals Under Tents And Barns

Originally published December 11, 2010

In the land of Bottom Feeder Big Tops : What a place to start, but you want the fun stuff, right? ... OK, I had almost forgot the names Dick Garden and Gopher Davenport (or maybe I wanted to forget) until Sir Harry of Kingston dropped both, apprising me of two sorta new shows aiming to join the perilous parade in '11: One to be called Piccadilly Circus, fronted by Canada's ill-distinguished tanbark hack, Dick Garden, our man who comps in moppets by the thousands, then sells $30-plus mandatory ducats to the parents they must bring along ... The other, yet another return or revival or re-booting of --- drum roll, please! --- Clyde Beatty Circus. Latter title been a bust ever since Johnny Pugh went with Cole Bros. only. A Davenport played with the name for a time in Texas; then came Mr. Garden to the ghost of Clyde's rescue, that short-lived; "If Clyde was alive," says Harry, "he would turn over in his grave." Now the hapless task of thrilling or re-killing Clyde falls to Ned Tooth, proudly touting everything he learned from his uncle, one-time Ringling manager, then Beatty-Cole co-owner Frank McClosky. Mr. Tooth evidently striving to make happen in 2011 what hardly happened for him during a very short Tooth Tour last season. His shiny website offering a show for tents or arenas, sponsors or buy-outs. Forty-Four weeks said to be projected for the coming season. Yes, we must project, which comes before reject, or eject ... And may all your days be circus dayz, Mr. Tooth!

Naughty Backyard Bed Bouncing: Rumors bolt my way concerning a not-very discrete tryst causing aggrieved party to explode and possibly an act or acts not to return to show at which the fire burned out of control. All I'm saying at this point is, the scandalous tale of daringly intimate infidelity only emboldens my belief, to wit: Those PBS cameras that earnestly dug for dirt on the Big Apple Circus scene would have found a heap more drama on the road had they freely panned this particular show. Most juicy tidbit here: Nasty marital fall out led to one party taking critical props needed by the other ... OK, how Billy Barton did that sound?

Kink, be gone! ... In with a bright morning smile comes the Circus Historical Society's cheerful new monthly newsletter, News & Views, briskly brief, brightly wrapped and graced with graceful nuggets: Among which, we learn that Kelly-Miller manager, James Royal, as a young man started out in the biz with Kelly Miller on their Menasha, Wisconsin lot in 1966, only two days after graduating from high school. So nice it is to learn of a young Jim having leaped to the top of the tent, playing Art Concello to North II's John Ringling North I. Other tidbits: That Antoinette Concello once partnered with Gracie Genders on the Roman Rings in the 1930s; that the old Heidelberg Raceway outside Pittsburgh, PA, where the mighty Ringling-Barnum delivered its very last big top show to the world, is now only just another blah shopping center, Raceway Plaza. Nobody going there other than a die-hard fan would know this. (A local group are trying to raise money to make of the old Heidelberg an historic signpost , promising a plaque or sign honoring that last fateful Big Show stand under canvas in 1956.) And that CHS will hold its annual convention next year In Cincinnati, where at the Cincinnati Art Museum, they will glimpse The Amazing American Circus Poster exhibition, featuring 80 posters put out between 1878 and 1939. This perky little newsletter, edited by Bob Cline, is but another reason why any hopeless circusphile should be a Bandwagon subscriber if he/she not already is. Bob (he did not ask me for this pitch) can be reached at 2707 Zoar Rd., Cheraw, SC 29520.

Big and/or Little Top Bits: Engrossed in a fine read, The World of Entertainment (about the MGM musicals), I learned that legendary film director Vincente Minnelli was born to circus parents. Sir Harry, of above, seeming sure that Kelly Miller "made nut" in 2010. Other sources telling me that advance agents already tracing out a path farther north through New England for Kelly Miller next season, one reason being to capitalize on Big Apple Circus giving up some long-held dates up that way ... Agent A slipping this my way, about Big Apple: Current performance is not viewed as able to jump-start sagging ticket sales into the next season, and in the works, under grim consideration, a more drastic shakeup of entire operation.

A Circus to the Cow Palace This Way Comes! That poor neglected old barn of a once iconic arena in San Francisco, where Ringling, when it first appeared there in 1948, turned 'em away by the thousands, finally hosting a circus show after several dark years -- not counting Carson & Barnes under canvas on one of its parking lots in 2008-09. Here comes the INDOOR version of Cirque du Soleil's very long-running-in-some-form-or-another Quidam. Wonder if CDS knows it might be playing on a jinked spot? I might make the trek just to see how how Cirque comes off in a huge arena, that is, if Dick Garden will comp me in ...

From December 11, 2010

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Neon Flowers in a Desert: Circus du Soleil Gives Away Whole Chunks of its Vegas Shows on PBS ...

Late breaking! Kodak, which has held naming rights to the Kodak Theatre in Los Angeles, currently home to Cirque's Iris show, has filed for bankruptcy. The theatre will use a different name for the Oscar telecast tonight, and Kodak reportedly wants out of its contract with the city, for which it pays $4 million a year for the theatre on Hollywood and Highland to bear its name. How this setback will affect the CDS run is yet to be known. The run was originally slated to be open-ended, and projected to last for 10 years. The curiously crass intersection, where tourists pass through, rarely staying very long, is once again plagued by failing imagery. I have no idea what sort of business Cirque has been doing at the "Kodak."

TV Review: Flowers in the Desert

Bottom Line: It made me wonder, who is more desperate for patronage and loot, PBS or CDS?

This totally caught me off guard, and was I surprised. CDS allowing much more than a midway tease on Pledge Break Society (PBS-TV), but large sections of most of its long-running Vegas productions.

Depending on your CDS attitudes and/or particular artistic tastes, you might be left swept away, or a little dizzy, numb and dumb with a blitzing overload of special effects, flying and floating props, and endless variations on the trampoline, most of it darkly lit. At last, a show to render a typical Feld fireworks display about as simple and harmless as the kid kit of sparklers and firecrackers I'd light off at home on the Fourth of July.

Of course, company's sterling acrobatics come through in spectacular fashion in the water show, O. On the other hand, KA struck me as the least engaging; to fans of opera, it might have been the most engaging.

Since I do not move to the beat of Elvis, the stage show about him seemed OK, containing a welcome more lighthearted spirit.

The Beatles? A rather interesting concept, featuring at the center a figure I took for Sergent Pepper. But I sensed a dour deference to John Lennon, whose darker reaches possibly suited creators of Montreal. I'd have liked a lot more melodic McCartney.

Audience reactions to the various shows, revealed now and then by long-shots, seemed more muted than ecstatic. Perhaps these are the Vegas crowds who seek mindless escape amidst the neon and slots. First broadcast in late November, PBS here in the Bay Area ran it last night for at least the second time in prime time, within less than a week.

No one can deny the monumental achievements of CDS on its own terms. Program made clear the technical and artistic dominance of Cirque du Soleil. But a certain cold machine-driven perfectionism that can feel not so faceless under a tent -- on this extended PBS please-give-us-your-money platform felt a little too redundant too soon.

I'm sticking to their touring shows.

[Originally posted December 9, 2010]

Monday, December 06, 2010

Spider Spite: New York Post Review Calls Spider-Man Musical "Epic Flop" Before it Even Opens; Will Vicious Hit Piece Provoke Law Suit?

Reeve Carney, opening night before the chaos struck; Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark - the musical

Possibly, New York Post theatre critic Michael Riedel was lusting after a cheap chance to pan a new musical before it could even officially declare itself stage-ready for legit reviewing. Before it was hardly out of the womb. So he pounced like a vulture onto a show in its very first preview performance.

We are talking the $65 million dollar Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, which just opened for a month-plus of previews, and seems to be already in deep dark trouble. That is, if Mr. Riedel's gleefully implicit advance postmortem is to be taken seriously.

In the old dayz, new tuners angling for NY acclaim would test their wares out on junior stages up in Boston and New Haven. Now the "producers" (who can number in the thousands for a single show) move into Broadway houses and conduct "previews" to accomplish the same shake-down process and save money.

Strange that a mainstream New York newspaper would unleash its flop-happy critic on a show hardly on its feet. Was once, not long ago I think, considered very unprofessional. In fact, opening night for this new musical, that comes limping into town with a troubled history, occurs, as of this precarious moment, not until January 11, 2011.

"Stunned audience members were left scratching their heads over the confusing plot -- when they weren't ducking for cover from failing equipment and dangling actors at the Foxwood Theatre on West 42nd street,' sang Riedel in full gloom and doom chirp. Ah, the thrill of watching another turkey cluck, buck and suck before our very eyes. That's Broadway too. A leading spectator sport among New York's theatre pros is watching their rivals (and their friends when so engaged) flailing about in big beautiful bombs over the Great White Way.

We might ponder Riedel's perverse behavior, asking ourselves if he has a personal grudge against somebody connected to this company. For instance, if somebody turned him down for an interview-date combo at a trendy Gotham dive. Or maybe the Post merely sent him out for blood, allowing him to craft an ersatz opening night disaster notice. This act strikes me as bordering on journalistic malpractice, to which the offending producers might file a lawsuit alleging a totally inappropriate and unfair pre-judgment of a new product still in the developmental and testing stages. Would Steve Jobs tolerate so reckless a premeditated smear?

Some fun Spider specs: Highest cost in NY stage history: $65 million. Score by U2's Bono and The Edge. Orchestra seats up to $275. Come wearing a hard hat -- lots of apparently unplanned aerial dynamics (currently tech-deficient) over pricey orchestra chairs. Sainted director Julie Taymor (Lion King) offering another larger-than-life puppet, the 8 legged Arachene.

Snags stopped the show cold four times during first act. Running time by final curtain: 3-1/2 hours. Nothing unusual, really. Out-of-town audiences often sat through long problem-plagued first performances in Philly and New Haven.

Actress Mary Jane, waiting in the wings to be rescued atop the Chrysler building, got lost in the upper grids; so, too, a part of the Chrysler building. But Spider Man (Reeve Carney) flew into sight lines, cradling Mary Jane in his arms for a safe stage landing.

Dangling wires fell over a stunned audience. When the show's heroine, after singing her big number "Rise Above," was seen flailing about in mid air over the orchestra seats for about eight minutes of unscripted action, the stage manager could not resist improvisational relief with mike in hand: "Give it up for Natalie Mendoza, who's hanging in the air!"

More embarrassing yet was the invincible Spider Man himself spinning out of control in space, swinging back and forth over the audience while anxious company hands leaped up to grab hold of his legs and reposition him on the stage.

Here's my favorite: While the Green Goblin (Patrick Page) was at the piano playing on and on to cover for unexpected tech crew mired in malfunctioning props, he vamped into a riff on a grand old standby, "I'll Take Manhattan," giving the thunderstruck crowd, I assume, a little sobriety amidst the chaos. "The best part of the show," declared one patron.

Riedel's obvious glee in giving a blow-by-blow of what might go down in history as one of Broadway's most hilariously inept first preview performances before an audience tells me virtually nothing. Nobody will know what this musical's actual prospects are until it can fix its flaws, maybe overhaul a lousy libretto (taking Riedel on his word), cut and paste, reboot and rewire, tighten and polish.

Contrary to Riedel's dire account, other reports refer to many first nighters calling it "a sure-fire hit." But the show is already haunted by is own troubled history. And director Taymor's reported desire to turn her special-effects-gadgets-galore monster into a long-running "installation show" are deemed by the cynical to mean -- Cirque du Soleil on a stage.

Which sounds to me like another Banana Shpeel in the making. Cirque failed to conquer Broadway. In Spiderman, Broadway may fail to conquer Cirque.

I'm waiting for the paying customers to decide. And for Spider-Man to get even with one very spiteful critic. Which sounds like maybe a hit musical in the making.

I'll take Manhattan, the Bronx and Staten Island, too .... It's lovely going through the zoo ...


Friday, December 03, 2010

Spidertacular Dangers: New Spider-Man Musical in Perilous Previews Fells Three Actors so Far

Natalie Mendoza & understudy America Olivo
Top photo by Jacob Cohl, off the website gotham1st

One blog, gotham1st, is calling Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark (the new $65 million musical now perilously previewing in NY) "a great show for understudies." In fact, who knows, when Opening Night finally occurs next Jan. 11, audience may witness a parade of lucky understudies strutting their stuff (perhaps by then more securely attached to safety cables, etc.)

And that's also assuming the show by then has not been de-Spidered by increasingly nervous NY city safety and health inspectors.

Latest to take a tumble is one of the stars, Natalie Mendoza, who is reported to have suffered a concussion the result of being hit on the head by a "safety rope." And this is not trivial news. And I am not laughing. Before the show even uncorked its aerial-intense choreography, two other actors had suffered serious injuries. One was described as an aerialist who broke both of his wrists last month performing a promo presentation for ticket agents.

Maybe it's high time for the producers to call in some circus-savvy pros to take a look at the ethereal executions and supply safer rigging precautions.

This apparently hazardous Julie Taymor-directed production may well end up generating more pre-opening publicity than any other show in Broadway history.

For a while, I was laughing over the incredibly problem-plagued first preview performance last Sunday. I'm now feeling grounded, concerned, and not a little apprehensively sad.