New Documentary Film Features the Flying Gaonas
A new documentary film, The Flight Fantastic, provides a fascinating look at one of the greatest acts in circus history, the Flying Gaonas, who became a star attraction with Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey for seventeen years. Long time Broadway director and recent flyer himself, Tom Moore, has brought their story to life through interviews with family members and colorful archival material. The Gaonas light up the screen with their undeniable charisma, a quality that is undiminished in their “second act,” teaching and coaching a new generation of flyers.
Moore recalls that as a boy,”when the circus came to town, my cousin Frank and I managed to score free tickets by helping with the tent and even carrying water for the elephants. I’m sure I looked forward to the three rings of fun and excitement, but what I was waiting for was that magical moment at the end of the show when the dazzling trapeze troupes spun into the center ring, climbed to the top of the tent and flew. A fantastic flight. I never got over it.”
Amazingly, many years later he rediscovered the flying trapeze and learned to fly himself. But his greatest thrill of all, he says, was being welcomed into a family and tradition from the golden age of trapeze. “The legendary family that introduced me into this magical world was one of the greatest flying acts of all time.”
The Flight Fantastic is Tom Moore’s first documentary feature, although he has had a long career in theatre, film and television. He directed the film Night Mother with Sissy Spacek and Anne Bancroft, following his direction of the play of the same title on Broadway with Kathy Bates, which was awarded the Pulitzer Prize and for which he received his second Tony nomination.
In the theatre Moore is best known as the director of the original production of the musical Grease, which ran for eight years. His first Tony nomination was for the direction of the big band musical Over Here! Which brought the Andrew Sisters out of retirement. His most recent Broadway production was Moon Over Buffalo with Carol Burnett.
On television he directed Disney’s first original musical for television Geppetto, starring Drew Carey and Julia Louis-Dreyfuss. He also directed episodes of ER, Mad About You L.A.Law, Cheers and Ally McBride, among others.
As an avocation, Moore is actively involved with the circus arts and spend as much times as possible on the flying trapeze.
The Flight Fantastic opens in New York City at the Cinema Village, 22 East 12th St, on April 1.
One more entry in the circus training center derby
Identical twins Elsie and Serenity Smith Forchion, the founders of the New England Center for Circus Arts (NECCA) have a dream: to create the country’s first state-of-the-art circus training facility in Brattleboro, VT. The sisters recently announced that they had reached a major milestone toward making that dream a reality. They have raised $1 million toward a total $2.5 million capital campaign, enough to hire an architect and builder and to move forward with the project. The new building is expected to be a state-of-the-art center for circus training that competes with similar circus schools in Canada and Europe.
In 2003, the sisters who have performed around the world in a sensation duo trapeze act, started their own circus school and performing troupe, Nimble Arts, LLC, offering lessons in aerial and acrobatic arts as well as choreographing for top circuses, schools and dance companies and performing with their troupe around the United States and around the world.
Since 2006 hundreds of circus artists have come from all over the world to take classes and teach with NECCA. But with the increased interest and skill level, the performers are outgrowing their space. In 2014 NECCA purchased a three-acre plot near downtown Brattleboro which has since been the site of a seasonal flying trapeze training center. Current plans call for the new facility to be constructed in phases, beginning with an indoor trapezium.
Fundraising continues toward the $2.5 million goal; when the goal is reached, the circus center will be completed and NECCA’s operations will be centralized at the new site.