Wow! It sure was a lot of fun doing my latest cabaret on December 15th at the beautiful Triad Theatre. It was called “P-P-P-Paul and K-K-K-Katie” because I was showcasing the first New York appearance of the talented Katie Galuska. A great debut! We started our collaboration with a duet from the film “Annie” (which I actually appeared in!). Katie sang several wonderful solos as well, notably “Funny,” “Lady Is a Tramp,” “Never Fall in Love with an Elf,” and “Screw Loose.” The guest performers were Dana Mierlak, who sang “The Trolley Song” from “Meet Me in St. Louis,” and the surprise of the evening, Petie Subin, who sang a sequence of duets with me, including one of my all-time favorites, “Do You Love Me?” from “Fiddler on the Roof.” Once again we were graced by the musical direction and piano accompaniment of Dennis Buck. A group of my fellow Dartmouth classmates and some of my chums from the Lotos Club made the audience a very friendly one. We all had a great time! I’m already contemplating what to do next.
Last night, May 21, I had the great honor of attending the final performance of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. It was a very special evening, which started with a moving tribute to his 50 years of stewardship of the Ringling enterprise by Kenneth Feld, the CEO.
It was performed to a packed house at Nassau Coliseum on Long Island. The show spoke eloquently to 146 years of American history. There were a lot of great moments, but perhaps the greatest was saved for after the end of the show. Ringmaster, Johnathan Lee Iverson made an impromptu speech and invited all of the employees and their families from backstage to join in the arena and sing Auld Lang Syne.
The NY Times quoted one ticket holder as saying, “…perhaps it will return, retooled and rebranded.” I join him in his sentiment.
I want to share with you a fun evening I had on Saturday, May 13. Shelly and I went to see the Bindlestiff Family Cirkus presenting A Cardboard and Duck Tape Spectacular!.
This is terrific live entertainment! There are no weak members of the cast. Stephanie Monseu is her usual dazzling self as emcee and juggler. Keith Nelson is a true burlesque top banana. Ekaterina Skmarina a goofy aerialist and floor gymnast. Ivory Fox a very clever acrobat capable of doing a variety of things, she has wonderfully graceful movement with a touch of comedy. Jared Kuchler is a multi-talented juggler, his specialty is a cigar box routine.
All of this accompanied by Peter Bufano’s original music on accordion, with Jeff Morris and Nate Tucker. The production was directed by our good friend Joel Jeske who will star in the upcoming Big Apple Circus.
What’s my review? Bindlestiff is a very clever variety arts theatre.
So, if they’re ever in your town or mine, go see them!
It’s been several weeks since I was able to post to this blog, but I’ve been very busy just trying to keep up with current developments. First of all, as I announced on my Facebook page, the auction that took place for the Big Apple Circus equipment, name, and trademarks was won by Compass Partners of Sarasota and New York City – Richard Perlman, Jim Price, Barry Salzman, Neil and Suzanne Kahanovitz, and Larry and Rita Solheim.
Here’s a big announcement from the new owners: they will open their first season on October 29 of this year. That will be a simply extraordinary accomplishment as there are enormous amounts of work to be done to get there. Let me give you a sense of what I mean: booking and contracting the artists and creative team, hiring the technical personnel, finding an appropriate rehearsal space, reconditioning the equipment, trucking and transportation, necessary visas, five weeks of rehearsal, and a unique nine day setup at Lincoln Center, just to name a few that come to mind.
And here’s the latest news: they are going to feature Nik Wallenda the Guinness World Record holding high wire walker. You probably remember that he walked on a tight wire across Niagara Falls and another over the Grand Canyon (nikwallenda.com). Both of these feats were telecast live on cable television and were extraordinary moments. I think this is a great start for the new producers and, once again, I wish them all the best in this incredible venture.
Dear friends and family,
There will be an auction on February 7th for the physical assets and the trademarked name of the Big Apple Circus. This is very exciting for me personally, as it gives me hope that the Big Apple Circus could be revived under new management. No matter what, I’m excited to open this new chapter in the story of the BAC. Sharing some good memories with this photo of the BAC BIG TOP AT LINCOLN CENTER AT NIGHT – look for the two strings of lights on top of the tent. Photo of the Big Apple Circus at night, in the heart of Manhattan, at Lincoln Center by Michael LeClair c.1992.
This was the second time I’ve performed at the Metropolitan Room. Last Year, we threw a sold-out benefit performance of PAUL BINDER RISKS HIS LIFE, and this year it felt like coming home to perform in a familiar space. Last year, I thought to myself, “Gosh, this would be great to do again.” And lucky me, I did! The new show provided a unique format for myself and Dana to share stories about how “it’s difficult to be tall” (Paul) and “…average in stature” (Dana, 5 feet in heels). She’s also half my age.
This past Wednesday, November 2nd, I had the immense pleasure of emceeing the New York Landmarks Conservancy’s annual Living Landmarks Gala at the Plaza Hotel Ballroom. This is special for me because, as many of you know, Michael Christensen and myself were honored by the New York Landmarks Conservancy in 2002 as New York City “Living Landmarks” for our work with the Big Apple Circus. At the time, Liz Smith was the emcee of their annual Gala at the Plaza, but last year she passed the baton on to me. I’m honored to do it once again this year. It’s a thrill!
It’s the best party in town, because it’s New Yorkers who love New York honoring people who love New York. The honorees this year were Frank Bennack & Mary Polan, Barbara Taylor Bradford & Robert Bradford, Nina & Tim Zagat, Larry Leeds, and Wynton Marsalis. What an honor to share the stage with these people who have had such a profound impact on the city we all love. I even got to sing a rewritten version of Billy Joel’s “New York State of Mind” — “I’m in a Living Landmark State of Mind!” The entire evening was gracefully organized by Peg Breen. I collaborated with my good friend Robbie Libbon on jokes that we could insert into a script that we thought could use additional humor. Here’s my favorite gag of the evening:
“We’ve got a couple of CEOs, an MD, a CFO, a PhD, even an OBE…to add to the long lost of SOBs from past years — no, no, I’m just kidding — there’s no CFO.”
Here are some photos of the event:
Not everyone has the opportunity to attend the Living Landmarks Galas, but all of you can come to my next cabaret performance! It is a ONE NIGHT ONLY event at THE METROPOLITAN ROOM, on DECEMBER 2ND at 7PM. After a successful benefit performance of PAUL BINDER RISKS HIS LIFE at the Metropolitan Room last year, we’re bringing a new cabaret: THE TALL AND THE SHORT OF IT! I will be joined by the dazzling Dana Mierlak in the new show THE TALL AND THE SHORT OF IT. We will share a few songs, a few stories, and a few jokes about how “it’s difficult to be tall” (Paul) and “…average in stature” (Dana, 5 feet in heels). We can’t wait to see you there! Tickets are available here.
At this point, the Big Apple Circus has fallen short of the funding we needed for the Save the Circus campaign so that it looks like we will not be able to open a new show at Lincoln Center as planned in October. It’s the first time in 36 years that we will be unable to do that. Every year since 1981 the Big Apple Circus big top has been put up in Damrosch Park. Lincoln Center won’t be the same during the holiday season without the circus.
Many of us are not yet willing to give up. It’s truly a matter of the finances, so we’re continuing to do what we can to continue this wonderful New York City tradition.
One thing that I can tell you is that my father used to tell me, “Paul, I’ve never seen you give up.”
Although I don’t frequently step into the ring with my red suit and top hat anymore, I’m finding myself behind a podium more and more. In the past year I’ve been invited to play host to many events and ceremonies, including the New York Landmarks Conservancy’s Living Landmarks Gala, which I’ve written about before.
This past weekend I was honored to introduce Dean Glenn Hubbard for his “State of the School” address at the Columbia Business School reunion weekend. I’ve known Glenn for many years, and I’m very pleased to be able to call him a customer. Yes, every year he brings his family to enjoy the Big Apple Circus at Lincoln Center.
Columbia has meant a great deal to me professionally and personally. Eleven years ago, my daughter, Katherine Binder, was a student at Barnard College, which is across the street from Columbia Business School. She called me one day and said, “Daddy, Daddy, you should go over to the Business School. There’s a big picture of you on the wall.” So I went, and there, in the hall outside the dean’s office, was a series of print ads that highlighted the individuality of Columbia MBAs. This was one of the ads:
I am a proud member of the Columbia Business School graduating class of 1966. Quite significantly, my education at Columbia had a profound impact on the development of the Big Apple Circus, which, from the beginning, was a social enterprise company. After all, just as important to the Big Apple Circus’s performance of an annual season is the mission to serve the communities in which we perform, which we do with five award-winning community programs. The largest of these programs is our Clown Care Unit, which sends specially trained professional performers—clowns, comedians, musicians, and magicians—to the bedsides of acutely and chronically ill children in fifteen pediatric hospitals nationwide, five of them in New York City.
So of course I was honored to have been asked to introduce the dean for his State of the School address. And I was happy to speak to a room full of sharp-minded individuals about my own business background with the Big Apple Circus. I never tire of pitching the commercial: we’re always looking for bright, young, passionate board members, and we’re always looking for MBA candidates who want very exciting internships.
My wonderful education (Dartmouth, Columbia)and the world of circus has given me the opportunity to have a life full of pleasure and adventure. I’m very grateful.
Reunion photos courtesy of Beth Brown, the Director of Alumni Relations, External Relations, and Development at Columbia Business School.
Have you ever had the opportunity to introduce a cardinal?! How about sing for one?! Well, this past week, I got to do both!
About two months ago I was contacted by Peg Breen, President of the New York Landmarks Conservancy. Peg and her staff were busy coordinating the Living Landmarks Gala, an annual soiree held in the Plaza Ballroom to honor new Living Landmarks. Each year, the Conservancy recognizes New Yorkers who have made outstanding contributions to the City.
Several years ago my juggling partner and Big Apple Circus co-founder, Michael Christensen, and I were honored and humbled to be declared New York Living Landmarks. I have been serving on the Gala’s Celebration Committee for the past few years, so when Peg called me up to ask if I would consider co-hosting the gala this year, I was both excited and nervous. Legendary gossip columnist, Liz Smith, had been hosting for seventeen years. This was a big deal! Honorees range from entertainers to entrepreneurs. And we’re talking some pretty huge names: Candice Bergen, Whoopi Goldberg, John Kander and Fred Ebb, Jerry Orbach, Elaine Stritch, and George C. Wolfe, just to name a few, not to mention some Rockefellers, governors, mayors, and senators.
So, would I consider co-hosting? … YEEEESSSSSSSS!!!!!
The lineup of honorees this year was terrific, and I was thrilled to be involved. Honored this year were Ken Langone, philanthropist and celebrated co-founder of the Home Depot; Brooke and Daniel Neidich, she the co-founder of Child Mind Institute and he a dedicated philanthropist and founder of Dune Real Estate Partners; Susan L. Solomon, a longtime healthcare advocate and the co-founder and CEO of the New York Stem Cell Foundation; Dr. Susan Weber, Director and Founder of the internationally-acclaimed Bard Graduate Center; and Robert E. Wankel and Philip J. Smith, Co-CEOs (and President and Chairman, respectively) of the Shubert Organization. I was thrilled to be able to take the stage alongside a handful of people who help make New York City great.
Not too long after agreeing to co-host, it turned out that I was going to host the event myself with the assistance of a couple presenters and special guests. And I was very enthusiastic about the company. I was delighted to be joined by Broadway legends Joel Grey and Bernadette Peters, who helped present the award to Phil Smith and Robert Wankel. Also, the Shubert Organization arranged for a special performance by Brian Stokes Mitchell, who will be returning to Broadway in the spring alongside Audra McDonald in Shuffle Along. Brian sang an mind-blowing arrangement of “There’s No Business Like Show Business.”
And then, of course, there was his Eminence, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, who presented the award to Ken Langone. And as host, little ole me got to introduce the cardinal! THE Cardinal of New York City! (Hey, Ma, look at me now!) And just because I never knew if the opportunity would ever come around again, with the help of Ken Langone and Peter Duchin, I led the audience in a verse of “Sidewalks of New York.”
All in all, the Living Landmarks Gala was a gas! I had loads of fun, and it was invigorating to be around so many talented and proactive New Yorkers. I sure hope the opportunity comes around again.
One last thing … Because we had to stick to a strict show running time, I didn’t have an opportunity to give a proper goodbye to Cardinal Dolan. So if you’re reading this, your eminence … whether or not the Dolan who owns the Knicks is a relative of yours, maybe you can pray for him. We really want a championship.