American Circus on the Brink: Can This Man Make It Right Again?
Mind you, I have a great respect for doctors. I love my doctor at Kaiser, and I am blessed with good health. But I’ve always grown anxious around medical offices, and am spooked out by all those long ugly words spelling out various conditions.
Now, as for Neil Kahanovitz, this particular surgeon -- who, by the way, has operated on three supreme court justices — turns out that he is the partner who will run the show! Better yet, turns out that he came up from sawdust dreams, smitten of the spangled world at the precocious of 4, when he was taken to a circus in Baltimore. There, the clowns “terrified him” enough, that, only a few years later, he was dreaming of becoming one himself!
And how glad we are that you did, Doc. All of this from a marvelous in-depth story by Tim Teeman in the Daily Beast.
As for the medical school idea (he was the first in the family to reach college), blame this competing ambition on his breaking an elbow, at 13, while playing hockey. The doctors who treated the break so impressed the patient, that he wanted to become one of them, too. And how relieved this surely made the family. But, no — not so fast — he was not about to jump sawdust for surgery.
The young big top fan, whose father was a bartender, joined on one summer with Clyde Beatty-Cole Bros, I'm guessing the late 1960s, as a candy butcher. And then, a trampoline performer was injured, and then he was given the chance to fill in, which he did, quite well, playing the comedy role. From there he advanced to trapeze flyer. He stayed with Cole Bros. for five years.
I found this neat little item about him in the Sept. 1 1975 issue of Circus Report: "Neil Kahanovitz, an intern at Los Angeles General Hospital, spent the past year as a clown on various shows.”
See what I said up front!
And, he has something of a theatrical track record, as well. Along the way Kahanovitz produced plays and musicals on Broadway, on the West End, and in Chicago and Los Angeles. He and partners want to take the circus on tour, acknowledging, however, that it will be up to crowd turnout. They know what the bottom line is. And may great success lead to the show, finally, coming out to California.
I was only sorry not to have found the names of Paul and Michael, at least as honorary consultants on the production staff. I don't know what this might mean, if anything.
How to handicap the show? What I miss the most, on paper, is a big Chinese acrobatic troupe of the kind that often brought great exuberance to a BAC program. What I wonder the most about is how the 7-high, born in the three-ring era, will go over in so relatively small a space. A tad claustrophobic?
New York is the perfect place. P.T. Barnum opened his first circus in Brooklyn, in 1871. The Greatest Shows on Earth of Barnum & Bailey that would follow in time opened every spring at Madison Square Garden.
It's up to you, New York, New York: The American circus community will be looking at your every move. This may be our one last chance. Please don't blow it.
To read the full article in which this information appeared, link to::
Producer Neil Kahanovitz
Nik Wallenda and Grandma
The Wallendas on the high wire
Juggler Gamal Garcia Tunizian
Ringmaster Ty McFarlan