The Little Circus That Could ... Highest Rated of Them All on Yelp

The Little Circus That Could ... Highest Rated of Them All on Yelp
Currently Reigning Champion at 4-1/2 Stars, Zoppe Family Circus Wins the Crowds with Heart-Warming Tradition

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Big Apple Circus Roars Back, Gunning for Gotham Return Under Nik Wallenda Control ... Solo-Heavy Lineup Awaits Phillip McKinley Direction ... America's Got Talent Alumni Promise Populist Media Eye ...

Once more rising from the ashes of bankruptcy -- a form of endurance it has become adept at outlasting --- the long-beleaguered Big Apple Circus makes yet another comeback. This third time around to uncork at Lincoln Center on November 11.  Pray they make it to Queens next April or May – and I’m going.

Alan Silva's umbrella intrigues me. The silks could use a good prop.

This time out, gone is any mention of Compass Partners, the Sarasota-based angels who bought the circus out of bankruptcy in 2017, and may now be dining on food stamps behind sad faced clown masks.  Gone too is Remarkable Entertainment hired by Compass, which not so remarkably blew its chance at Comeback Season 2.  You may remember a retired spinal surgeon who took on Comeback Season 1.  The media chirped.  Will they replay the chirp for Comeback Season 3?  Their patience may be running low. So far, little evidence of hometown media running with the news

Johnny Rocket.  He makes me laugh already. A runaway Nock?

Enter new lead man Nik Wallenda, whose name alone should guarantee ample New York press coverage.  The nephew of legendary Karl Wallenda is partnering with a conglomerate of entities too fuzzily reported on to make complete sense of.  One is called  “S2BN Entertainment,” another Grand Slam Productions. Remarkable is nowhere in sight.  I’m not wasting any more time trying to untangle this web of murky control, only wondering who really is in charge. For the moment, I’m going with Nik

And just in the nik of time, when Big Apple Circus looked eerily close to a fire sale  Shall we count on three being a charm?  Heck, I’ll even go for four, or more.

Singing swinger Eli Huber, yes she sings, too! And oh, how daring you don't look with your iron mechanic.  Nik: You booked her?  

And what to look forward to? Most impressive to my eyes are at least the first two of these three promising elements, all of which speak well to Nik’s showmanship:

1.  Show to be directed by Phillip William McKinley, a former Ringling knockout stager with a gift, when it is turned on, for brilliantly shaping and pacing circus action.  His Ringling unit at Coney was the best damn circus show I have seen in many seasons.

2.  America’s Got Talent contributes as a valuable tie-in, thanks to the populist exposure it has given to a few of the show's acts.  This gives Nik’s PR department ample human-interest material to push on the media.

3.  The Loner Edition? On paper, a slew of solo artists from around the world — perhaps too many solos —  promise a vibrant spread of intense novelty. Houdini Illusion to tiny dachshunds.   Some have worked on Cirque du Soleil shows, but none tout Monte Carlo medals. Should we be surprised by the lack of Asian faces? I am disappointed but not surprised, given the simmering US-China tensions.  The bios on them are wordy, and two do not even spell out what the artist actually does!  Excuse me?

Classy: Katya Nikiforova

From Cirque land, James, Gonzales: Let's see, at least we see some kind of a prop, and since he toured with Cirque's Kurious (the last good CDS I saw), perhaps he learned to go super abstract.

Golly, have we a duo?  Count them two solos in one! Ethiopia's Yab Brothers.  So, what exactly do they do, bio writers? Yet to be determined?  Risley, maybe.

Okay, so three’s a charm, a good theme for now.  Nik’s forebears tried taking out a circus of their own, and the tents fell in weeks. Has happened to other performers, too.   But ... but, the Ringling Brothers were performers before they turned themselves into circus kings. Paul Binder and Michael Christensen performed before they produced.

Yes, they are not miniatures but real!  And they rocked America's Got Talent.  I saw the You Tube. Pure gold, kids

"We can't wait to reveal the new show that will certainly mix traditional circus and modern updates," said Wallenda to AMNY.

On balance, I see Nik making some very smart moves at the outset. Not sure he can be both star performer and effective CEO. But this I think:  We can rest assured that “character arc” does not count much if at all in his mind.  Pray he keeps the dramaturgs out of his tent.

Sunday, September 12, 2021

Simon Cowell -- Closet Circus Fan? -- Pumps Circus Acts to Lure in the Crowds, Dumps 'Em at Finals for His Favorite Singers. America's Got Gall!

Okay, Simon, why are you so afraid of the circus in your own show? Is that why you haven't the guts to give its best moment the honor they deserve?

I am starting to look deeper into the win history of America's Got Talent.  And I am finding what should not be a surprise.  Most of the winners are the singers.  A few are magicians and ventriloquists

Top dog?  Only once did a real circus act bark off with top honors -- an act introduced to Americans in 1989 by Cliff Vargas --- surprise! -- Olate dogs.  You did know about Simon and the dogs?

Runner up? Only once, to an acrobat

Just Another Rigged Reality Show?

To be clear, I only watch parts of these drawn-out episodes.  I have seen so-so circus acts, now and then the occasional star turn.  There were three men this season doing, from a bit I caught, a fantastic balancing act. They brought the judges to their feet, as the judges sometimes do for circus acts.   You might get from Simon rare verbal acclaim -- "The best act of your type we have ever seen here!"  Maybe even "the best I has ever seen  anywhere!"  And how exciting to hear, Simon.  And where from there?  Onto no where.  Pumped and dumped.

Here's my best guess: Simon does not want to risk giving circus the prime attention he gives to the singers, lest he produce the image closer to a vaudeville show than a singing contest, right?

Other night I tuned in and saw three acts standing on the stage -- only one would be named to go to the finals. One of them were a terrific group of ladies on unicycles who turned in a dazzling display.   Would they get through?  Of course, not.  Another singer was plucked to stay the course. Singers ... singers ... singers ... BOOOOORING.

Rigged? Who really knows but Simon and his cronies.  I've read the audience may be mostly what are known in Hollywood as "audience extras," meaning paid shills to fill up the seats. Better yet, to take their reaction cues from scripted signals.  There are plenty of complaints out there alluding to rigged judging, and I have to believe them, simply because I believe Simon will not dare turn his precious little let-me-hear-you-sing showcase into something closer to a Barnum concoction.  Thus, they use 'em for come in, shun 'em at finals.   

I have noted here how lucky we are to at least have America's Got Talent, if only for the continued national exposure it gives to circus arts. Which means that it will continue to infuriate me.