May 222017
 

Big Cat Trainer, Alexander Lacey, performs one last time with Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus.

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.

Johnathan Lee Iverson with the Circus company

The NY Times quoted one ticket holder as saying, “…perhaps it will return, retooled and rebranded.” I join him in his sentiment.

May 152017
 

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!.

Stephanie Monseu (L) and Keith Nelson (R)

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!

May 052017
 

 

It occurs to me that the only photo that we published in my post on Sunset Boulevard was the poster photo of Glenn Close. Of course she’s in makeup and wig to appear to be a “has-been” actress from silent movies. So I’m including two other photos of her out of costume. And, as a bonus, here’s one of her in costume and wig taking her finale  bow. If you hope to get to see the show, it’s a limited engagement, performing only until June 25th.

 

 

 

Mar 282017
 

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.

NIKWCanyon

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.

 

 

 

BigappleNik

Jan 312017
 

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.

 

BAC tent at LC

 

Sep 242016
 

 

Showfolks of Sarasota

Showfolks of Sarasota

Well I’m a couple of weeks behind, but I want you all to know about a wonderful evening I spent at the Showfolks Club of Sarasota in Sarasota, Florida. First of all, let me say that the club is a very special place. (I am a lifetime member, although I think they didn’t expect me to live this long.) The walls are covered in photos of circus performers, dating back to the 1930’s, many signed by the artists. It is a haven for many of us who worked in the circus business.

For the second year in a row, I offered to do a benefit cabaret performance for the club, so I wanted to share some of the highlights.

I partnered with the wonderful musical comedienne Dana Mierlak, and we called our show Big and Little. I’m six feet tall, Dana’s five (in heels). Also, she’s half my age. It made for fun banter, i.e.:

PAUL: I’m Paul, the tall one.

DANA: Dana. … Average in stature.

And:

DANA: We were both seven years old when we saw our first Broadway show. But of course his was in 1949, and mine was in 1989.

showfolks-cabaret-2

“So if baby, I’m the bottom, you’re the top!”

We had a ball, and it was a great success. Here are some photographs.

I’d love to make it an annual event.

 

"So, nooo?"

“So, nooo?”

showfolks-cabaret-1

Big & Little

 

I’m doing a version of the same cabaret with Dana at the METROPOLITAN ROOM in New York City on DECEMBER 2nd AND 6th, at 7pm. SAVE THE DATE in your calendar!

Jul 112014
 

4th of July - cartoon 4

It’s not quite the 4th of July if there isn’t BBQ’d food and something exploding with light in the summer night to the grand strains of John Philip Sousa. But having a BBQ and fireworks in a New York City apartment? That can be a tricky endeavor. Luckily we didn’t have to resort to any illegal grilling out on the fire escape.

I had some loved ones visit me in the last couple weeks, which made the time around the holiday even more special. My son Max came in from the West Coast, and I also got to see my daughter Katherine and her two little ones, my grandchildren Sonya and Leo, who flew north from Florida.

We attempted a preview of some of the 4th of July fare with the grandkids, and Leo impressed us all when he took a bite out of a vegan (unbeknownst to him) hot dog and his face immediately turned to disgust. He explained, “Yecchhh! It tastes like beans.” He got it right. Not only did he know that it didn’t taste like the hot dogs that he was used to, but he also identified the unusual hot dog flavor. That’s quite a pallet for a four year old!

Truth is, I only bought the vegan dogs in case one of our guests was on a health kick — none were. On the actual holiday, we offered up the bean-tasting vegan hot dogs to the local wildlife (don’t ask!) and enjoyed some meat-loaded hamburgers and hotdogs. To cook we used a BBQ grill with which we were very familiar: the good ol’ kitchen range. We served the food on china plates with mountains of cole slaw and potato salad.

4th of July - Sonya and Leo

Leo and Sonya

It wouldn’t be Independence Day in New York City without the Macy’s Fireworks Spectacular. This was the first time in five years that the Macy’s fireworks show was set off on the East River, which was good news for most New Yorkers who could now see the bright lights from downtown Manhattan and areas of Brooklyn and Queens. This was also the first year that I’ve lived in an apartment with a beautiful view of the Hudson River. The timing just wasn’t meant to be. But hey, maybe next year we’ll travel to Manhattan’s east coast.

I’m delighted that I got to spend some time with family, and I hope all of you had a wonderful 4th of July as well.

4th of July - Katherine and Max

Katherine and Max (a few years back)

Nov 272013
 

This week, many of us will be heading into the kitchen to prepare a meal for our families and friends. I myself am no great chef, but every year around Thanksgiving I’m reminded of the time I worked for one.  The following excerpt is from my book Never Quote The Weather to A Sea Lion… (available for purchase here).

In 1963, barely out of Dartmouth College, I’d been hired as floor manager for a little cooking show aired by Boston education channel WGBH. The show was called The French Chef, and the chef, of course, was Julia Child. Julia was an imposing figure. At six feet two inches, she was taller than I was, but it was her passion that wowed me. She loved the food that she’d discovered in Europe and wanted all of America to share her discovery.

On my first day I was naturally nervous but resolved not to let her see it. That was no easy task, as I was positioned twelve feet in front of her. During that first taping, I heard the voice of Russ Morash, our director, loudly through my headset: “Tell her she’s sweating, Paul.” I quickly thought about the various ways of putting this tricky, personal, potentially embarrassing matter to her; then I wrote one word on a large paper pad and held it up for her to see: PERS-PIR-A-TION. A moment later she casually mopped her brow with a dishcloth, and I thought to myself, Whew, I got that right.

As the show ended, I counted her down with my fingers: 5 …4 …3 …2 …out. She was laughing and happy. The show worked; the food looked great. She walked up to me, engulfed me in that large frame with a hug, and said with a laugh in her voice. “Paul, where I come from, they call it a sweat!”

julia-child-chicken

 Folks, when you’re in the kitchen tomorrow, and you’re afraid the turkey’s too well done, or Grandma won’t be impressed with your take on her famous sweet potato casserole, my advice is: don’t sweat it! Just be grateful for the opportunity to be surrounded by loved ones. And remember, if you find yourself acting a little stir-crazy, you could always gather up all your visiting relatives and bring them to the circus! Happy Thanksgiving!