Sep 012017
 

I recently wrote to alert you all about the very funny musical parody, Me the People. It’s a four person all singin’, all dancin’ off-off-Broadway show. The critics raved and I’m raving as well! It’s being performed at the Triad Theater which is a beautiful facility located above a Turkish restaurant on west 72nd. You’re sure to laugh and applaud as the cast is excellent at skewering our current political scene.

Click here to get tickets.

The following will give you an idea of the some of the ridiculously funny stuff of the show:

Aug 072017
 

During our annual visit in the Berkshires, Shelly and I have always looked for excellent theatre choices. We’ve attended Shakespeare and Company in Lenox and Barrington Stage in Pittsfield. This year, Barrington Stage featured a clever farce by Alan Ayckbourn, Taking Steps. The play is a classic exaggerated British physical comedy. Here’s some photos of Taking Steps:

Some of the cast on the unique set of “Taking Steps”.

Cast members (L to R) Matthew Greer, Richard Hollis & Carson Elrod.

Cast members (L to R) Richard Hollis, Claire Brownell & Matthew Greer.

 

I also had the opportunity to visit with my old friend and colleague, Gypsy Snider, who is an original company member of San Francisco’s Pickle Family Circus and founder and Artistic Director of Montreal’s famed Seven Fingers of the Hand (Sept Doigts de la Main). We discussed her latest work and future projects, perhaps even with the new Big Apple Circus. Many of you might remember that Gypsy created all of the circus work for the brilliant Tony Award-winning Broadway revival of Pippin.

 

Gypsy Snider.

Here you can see a flavor of Gypsy’s circus creation in the Tony Award-winning Broadway revival of “Pippin”.

 

This year we didn’t have time to go to the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, which is featuring iconic American images of Andy Warhol alongside Rockwell’s iconic images. We also didn’t have the chance to go to a wonderful dance concert at Jacob’s Pillow. If we can, we’ll return later this year for some of the wonderful events that the Berkshires offer.

Aug 072017
 

Shelly and I spent a wonderful week in western Massachusetts in the Berkshire Hills, which is a vital center for the performing and visual arts. The Summer months bring out the best of both. We schedule our annual visit so that we can have a mini-reunion with my Dartmouth classmates (1963) and attend Tanglewood on Parade, a day long celebration highlighted by performances by three extraordinary orchestras: the Boston Symphony (BSO), the Boston Pops, and the Tanglewood Symphony Orchestra, each with its own distinct and unique flavor.

The crowd on the lawn outside the Koussevitzky Music Shed.

The youthful performers in the Tanglewood Symphony generally lead off the program. This year they performed several pieces, the most familiar of which is Aaron Copland’s Fanfare for the Common Man (believe it or not our eight piece Big Apple Circus Band actually performed this orchestral number as an entrance piece for our aerialist Sacha Pavlatta’s Cloud Swing Act in 1981). Pictured below is Charles Dutoit conducting the Tanglewood Symphony inside the 5000 seat Music Shed.

The Boston Pops performed several numbers with Keith Lockheart conducting two songs, Love is Here to Stay by George and Ira Gershwin and I Won’t Dance by Jerome Kern. The revered 85 year-old John Williams, the Musical Director Emeritus of the Boston Pops, conducting three of his own wonderful motion picture compositions, including the stirring and thrilling finale from Star Wars.

Keith Lockhart (L) and John Williams (R).

The grand finale of the evening is the combined orchestras performing Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture, Opus 49 with Keith Lockhart conducting. Those of you who are familiar with the piece know that Tchaikovsky wrote into the score the sound of live cannons firing blanks accompanying the final movement. Sure enough Tanglewood on Parade had those cannons in a nearby field firing on cue.

And then, the evening ended with a spectacular display of fireworks.

Jun 302017
 

I spent this past weekend at Circus Flora in St. Louis. A simply lovely show, filled with special highlights, and outstanding performers. It was well worth the trip!

Here is the show statement from the Circus Flora program:

Imagine that you could travel through time. Would you go back to relive historic events? Would you try to change history?  What if you could alter the course of your own life?  Now imagine you had the grace, power, and beauty of an acrobat or an aerialist.  Circus Flora’s all new production will use the timeless art of circus to explore the fabric of time.

On the High Wire (sitting in the chair) is Tino Wallenda, patriarch of The Flying Wallendas. Walking on the High Wire with Tomas Wallenda Cortes on his shoulders is Alex Wallenda. The juggler with hoops and umbrellas is Kyle Driggs, who I first saw at the Paris circus festival, Festival du Cirque de Demain.  The juggler with the cigar boxes balanced on his chin is Adam Kuchler. The lady with the “Big and Little” horse act is Cassidy Herriot…she is a team with veteran horse trainer Heidi Herriot (her mom).

Featured annually in Circus Flora is the acrobatic team from Circus Harmony. The kids were remarkable as the dove into each others arms and even performed a “passing leap.”

My thanks to Artistic Director, Jack Marsh, Show director (and old friend) Cecil Mckinnon, Equestrian Advisor, Laura Carpenter Balding, Circus Harmony Director (and original Big Apple Circus performer) Jessica Hentoff. Musical Director and Composer Janine Del’Arte and old friend Hovey Burgess. And a salute to new Executive Director Larry Mabrey and the Circus Flora Board of Directors.

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!