FYI Vol. I, No. 9

 

 

All-Female Flying Act Being Formed

 

The Terry Cavaretta Trapeze Experience of Las Vegas will be holding open auditions exclusively for women who are interested and capable of joining a new all-female flying act that is being assembled for a debut with the biggest circus in Paris during the 2015 season.  Amateurs and pros are welcome to audition. Requirements include a willingness and availability to travel, a strong swing, physical fitness and a willingness to learn.  To audition one must appear in person on December 1 at noon in Las Vegas.

For further information as to place, contact Rejean St. Jules at  www.lasvegastrapeze.com or stjulesstudio.com

 

 

Feld Entertainment Readies Move

 

A $20 million renovation covering 575,000 sq. ft. on a forty-six acre site  in Ellenton, Florida of Manatee County is rapidly moving forward in preparation of becoming Feld Entertainment’s  worldwide production headquarters.  Four hundred craftsmen have been  busily working at the site so that it will be ready to receive  the first wave of personnel which is scheduled to arrive early in the new year.  Eventually the complex will employ approximately  250.  A “history wall” will greet visitors in the foyer of the building which, in one section, will feature eighty foot high ceilings so that aerial acts can rehearse or train.  The complex will also contain  a recording studio, costume warehouse, and railroad car recycling shops.  The objective is to bring all the company’s various departments together under one roof.   To accomplish all this a five year transitional period is planned, however activity already seems ahead of schedule.

 

 

Cirque du Soleil Finds New Home in New York

After years of experimenting with a variety of sites after being evicted from their ideal Manhattan home in what is now Battery Park, Cirque du Soleil will bring its production of Totem to the parking lot of Citi Field, home of the Mets baseball team in Queens.  The show is scheduled to begin performances March 14,

 

Benefit staged for Paoli Lacy

 

San Francisco’s Stage Werx on 14th St. was the site last month of a performance to benefit Paoli Lacy,  former director and core clowning teacher for the Clown Conservatory at Circus Center. As a director, Lacy developed original works with the Dell ‘Arte Players Company, Miracle Theatre, Make-A-Circus, the New Pickle Circus, and Brava! Theatre. She has directed over three dozen world premiers, including many circuses and clown shows,  as well as known scripts by such writers as Gertrude Stein and Shakespeare. Recent projects include multiple productions of her suicidal clown play Angry Gods and Lost Marbles and Wild in the Water .  She is currently working on a documentary video concerning manic depression, art and comedy. She is also the “God-mother of Clown Therapy” and author of The Clown Therapy Handbook.  Trained in clowning at the Oval House Theater in London with Nola Rae and Lotte Gosslar, Lacy also has an MFA from the University of Washington, as well as a diploma from Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Clown College.   This special performance is reviewed below by Judy Finelli.

 

The weather was uncharacteristically warm for San Francisco. When I say warm, I mean 80s and even 90s. But the weather could not hold a candle to the amount of warmth and the outpouring of love displayed at Paoli Lacy’s benefit show, which was performed by a combination of veteran circus pros and newcomers.

The warm-up act was a graduate of the Clown Conservatory, Audrey Spinazola, along with her partner James Sundquist. They are a musical duo, she on vocals and ukulele,  he on percussion. They did several standards like “Dream a Little Dream of Me.” Her sweet, somewhat shy presence belied her musicianship, setting the mood for the evening right at the top of the show.  Later in the evening, she played and sang a song she had written especially for Paoli.

It was great fun to see Jaron Hollander and his partner Slater Perry do excerpts from their two person presentation, “The Submarine Show.” Two clowns have to move intricately in very close proximity as they simulate being on a submarine and try to survive–despite catastrophes–with ample time for comedic interaction. They even perform synchronized acrobatic moves as they battle undersea perils. They took an inventive, seemingly simple idea and thoroughly mined its possibilities. It paid off: they recently received accolades at the prestigious Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

Musical eccentric Johannes Mager put the audience on with a slyly comic lip-synch, replete with period costume, hand puppet and wicked delivery. An excellent musician, he takes his comedy way out on a limb, but delivers laughs and holds the audience, leading them willingly onto that limb and beyond.

Frankie Olivier

Performance artist Sarah Felder does what I have rarely seen done successfully: giving the audience information about the play itself before actually performing it.  It was, we learn, originally produced by the Yiddish Theater in New York City at the beginning of the 20th Century.  It works for her because  when it comes to comedy, rules are meant to be broken. And break them she does with wit, a wry sense of the absurd, and a keen sense of anticipating what the audience is expecting so that she can throw those expectations out the nearest window. Using a turtle, a slinky, lethal water gun and Barbie dolls, etc., she tells the tale of a Rabbi who runs a brothel in his basement. The ladies of the evening, represented by those Barbie Dolls, also stand in for the rabbi’s daughter who becomes the lover of one of the prostitutes. This causes a huge crisis for the Rabbi.  Predating “Ellen” by 70 years or so, the play’s theme forced the Yiddish theater to close it down.
Frankie Olivier hoped to edify the audience with his classical ballet on unicycle. Sporting a fluffy pink tutu and wearing little else except for sneakers and a mischievousness grin, he takes the audience through his tortured attempts at being a high-class artiste. He displayed his talent for picking a great volunteer and turned the volunteer into an unwitting but surprisingly good-natured partner in his act. It’s easy to see why this performer is so successful. He plays every moment spontaneously and fully.

Sara Moore also scored with a macabre song, as if sung by her Jewish grandmother, “Everyone Fun Is Dead.” Sara inhabits the song completely as she moves rapid-fire through a bewildering array of facial acrobatics which express every emotion that the song conjures up for her. Her voice is perfect to deliver it and acting wise, she delivers the goods.

Betty and Mrigold

Betty and Marigold (a.k.a. Texas Holly and Felicity Hesed) are identical twins—supposedly–– except for the fact that they could not look any more different. They perform their loopy rendition of “The Clairvoyant.” Betty is the quintessential dumb blonde, all arms and legs, purposefully vacant expression but with razor-sharp comic timing and a marvelous ability to put the audience on. Marigold is forced to try and cover for the fact that her “twin” sister Betty is far from the master mind-reader that they pretend she is. Texas also answers the question “can one be sexy and funny at the same time?” with a resounding “absolutely!” Rumor has it that at the 9 PM show Texas brought down the house – and a few other things-–with her comedy ecdysiast act.

Jeff Raz (right) and Paoli

Coming out of retirement in honor of Paoli was Vaudeville Nouveau: Jeff Raz, Daniel Mankin, and Mark Sackett. This trio toured extensively in the 70s and 80s, playing music, juggling and doing comedy as well as appearing in The Comedy of Errors at the Vivian Beaumont and in a production directed by the late, legendary Joseph Chaikin. The trio balanced each other perfectly with Daniel doing his ping-pong ball Nixon impersonation, while Cirque du Soleil lead clown, Jeff Raz juggled and Sackett provided the musical accompaniment on woodwinds and flute. Their performance was a real treat and special gift to Paoli.

Ably representing the new generation of performers was Jesse Horne, who did a wildly eccentric clown piece all the while insisting that he was no longer a clown, but a musician. A graduate of the Clown Conservatory while Paoli was the artistic director, he has learned how to assemble the pieces that comprise a good clown act. The audience was with him every step of the way as he led them in the most outrageous getup imaginable, through a hip-hop beat boxing partnership with his recalcitrant puppet (alter ego?). As Paoli put it: “it was great to see him hold his own with the more experienced pros on the bill.”

Simone Lazar

To add a touch of real class to the evening, taking us from the ridiculous to the sublime, Simone Lazar did an aerial act on her hoop. Dressed in spandex with spare rhinestones, she lent her marvelous flexibility, strength, balletic line and artistry to an exercise that gave the evening the necessary elements of risk, lyricism and variety.

A nod must be given to Leah Gardner and Andrew P. Quick from Pi Clowns for doing an admirable job changing the props and setting up the acts and to the charming master of ceremonies Jeff Raz for keeping things moving and bouncing along smoothly. Performer, teacher, director and mentor to countless clowns, Paoli never ceases to amaze.  She bravely stands as a testament to the life-affirming spirit of the circus. Here was a benefit in which the performers and the audience benefited as much as the guest of honor.

Photos by Gary Thomsen

 

 

 Circus Harmony Schedules Shows

 

Circus Harmony’s  annual show, this year titled Capriccio, which is being described as a “vaudeville adventure,” will run for six performances January 19 and 26, 2013 at 2 and 7 pm and January 20 and 27 at 2 pm. at the City Museum in St. Louis, Mo. Tickets are $15.  The company’s culmination shows, the end results of fifteen weeks of instruction and training, will be held December 7, 8,  and 9.  These shows are free to anywhere attending the City Museum.   Visit Circus Harmony at www. circusharmony.org for more information on this very engaged company’s activities.

 

Circus Mojo Celebrating Third Anniversary

Circus Mojo’s home in Ludlow, Kentucky, is  the Ludlow Theatre Historic Restoration.  It was built in 1964  and under Paul Miller’s tireless leadership is fast becoming a bustling live entertainment destination. Immediate plans for the facility include expanding the seating capacity, installing a restaurant and bar, and developing its very own in-house circus production group. In addition to programming an array of music and entertainment (jazz, folk, rock, dance, comedy, improvisation, etc), the restaurant will offer brick-oven pizzas, the bar will specialize in independent microbrews, and the in-house production group will produce regular circus performances and a touring show. Its themed entertainment nights will offer customers a diverse, dynamic surrounding with something new every visit.