May all your days be circus days!
DO YOU REMEMBER WHO DID THIS IN 2000?
2009 CIRCUS VISITS (Part 1)
This season has been my slowest in many years as my schedule has prevented me from seeing lots of shows this year, along with taking it easy on my car that has over 316,000 miles, shows that I didn't know was in the area of my travels and my pocket book is drying up because of the economy with promoters not taking the risk of booking in extra acts and the ones that do wants something cheap. To make matters worse there are lots of local want-ta-bees that are doing stunts for free or at least cheap. I hope 2010 will be much better.
My 2009 year started with the:
#1 NATIONAL ACROBATS OF CHINA
Collins Center for the Arts
My first show of 2009 was the Columbia Artist Productions; National Acrobats Of China produced by Andrea Grossman and directed bt TianZichun and Jianguo Yao as the program states.
The performance started about 7 minutes late with about a 90% house. (Roughly 120 seats was empty). The balcony seats where I sat ran $25. During the performance a 20 minute intermission was taken. The show lasted about 1 hour anf fifty minutes. Overall this was a good show, everything was coreographed to music. Costumes sparkled and stood out and everyone was in sync. The program listed 13 acts but only 8 was presented with others put in for replacements. A cast of over 30 performers performed this night.
The show started with ACT #1 with 13 females performing with plate spinning. Each girl holding 5 plates on sticks in each hand with a classic routine. The featured came up with 3 girls lying on their backs holding up a platform with their feet and 2 girls mounting the platform and these two girls eventually perform a head to head stand. During this part of the presentation everyone was still spinning the plates.
ACT #2 A single female performer performs feats of flexabilities with one arm stands on a 6 fott pedestal. ACT #3 Hoop Diving by 11 male performers who jumped, dived and tumbled through hoops. This was one of the best acts of the night. And one of the top 10 that I have seen thru out the years. Act #4 A single female contortionist shows off her body flexability while holding up to 5 different articles of gold crystall instead of thr lighted candles. Act #5 In the program the Aerial Silkes was to be performed by a man and woman. In this program only a woman performed. Not an impressive act as I have seen many before who was much better. But the audience loved the act. Act #6 Prior to the intermission was the Grand Acrobats & Martial Arts display with 27 members performing.
Act #7 INTERMISSION (20 minutes)
Act #8 10 females in colorful costumes perform with diablos. This was a sensational act with only 1 miss. Act #9 10 male performersnow juggle, throw, and catch straw hats individually and in groups. Act #10 Vase Rizzly, a young male performs with 2 different sizes of Vases balancing them on his head. Act #11 Male members perform acrobatics somersaults on each others feet was sensational. Act #12 brought out an all girl bicycle act that ended with 13 girls riding on one bicycle which now brings us to Act #13 The grand finale of all cast members.
Not seen in the listing of the program that was handed out was the Leather Strap, the duo on the Silks, Balance on Benches, Russian Bar. For most who never has seen any Chinese Acrobats they never knew the difference as everyone enjoyed the show with a standing ovation to end the night.
#2 ALLEPPO SHRINE CIRCUS
Royal Hanneford Circus
On Friday morning after driving over 5 hours my day started off at the Aleppo Shriners Circus in Wilmington, Mass which is once again produced by the Royal Hanneford Circus with this unit managed by Kay Parker who also was musical, lighting and performance director all rolled up in one at this 3 ring spectacular. Prior to the 10:30 performances I jacked potted with Bill Commerford and T J Howell. I go babk many years ago meeting TJ at Circus World in Baraboo in Wisconsin. In the summers TJ now performs at the Bartlett's Water Show in the Wiscon Dell's. Bill's father Bob, I have know for more than 20 years from many fair conventions that I have been to in the winters.
Some of the many displays were 2 rings of hula hoops, a single trap, TJ Howell with juggling and unicycles, the Zemperla-Zoppe Riders along with many turns from the Anastasini Family including risley, diablos. Andrie Markov and his Liberty Dogs. The fantastic Bilea Troup on the Russian Bar and Mini the largest performer who was presented by Bill Commerford.
A great looking 3 ring Shrine Circus that was well received. New this year was an inflatable slide and TJ's Circus Train which was not used at this performance because the area was needed to seat the handicapped patrons in wheel chairs. My estimate was about 60% of capacity for this morning performance.
#3 BIG APPLE CIRCUS
It was an exciting adventure this year while attending the Big Apple Circus at the Government Center in downtown Boston as I was followed by a film crew from a pilot program for CMT-TV called for now in pre-programing "Daredevils Live" or "HELL DRIVERS".
First of all I want to THANK!, Don Covington and all of the management and crew of the Big Apple for letting the film crew film me going to a circus as this is showing part of my regular day when I am traveling performing in the country and not performing.
The Big Apple Circus is one of only a very few circuses that has a live band. This years production features the band. The band cosist of 8 members that plays original music scored just for this show. Every act and the band is tremendous, well timed and has excellant lighting and sound.
My favorite acts of this show has to be Guimig Meng with his vases. He ends the first half in style. Everyone is amazed by his routine especially with a 30 pound vase tossed up on his headed and balanced. Every show I have scene him perform at he brings the house down with a well deserved applaud. Also Christine Zerbini and Sultan Kumisbayes with their kosack riding act was fantastic. The Big Apple this year has found one of the best Russian Bar acts that I have ever scene. The Rodian Troupe is subperb with twist and turns that seams to be impossible to land on a wooden bar.
Earlier in the day I saw Luciano Anastasini family in Wilmington. Now it was time to see the patrioc of the family perform with his canine friends. Another act that really stood out was Sarah Schwarz with a theatrical performance on the tight wire. This presentation was excellant compared to others that no style in their presentation of the act.
There was many other great acts that I should list, but for anyone in the area when the Big Apple plays, you sure do not want to miss a great family show. OH, by the way I have to mention one more act. Robinson Cortes has his Fling Cortes Flying Trapeze Act as the final. For all that knows the business he also performs with the Flying Wallenda's as a bottom walker with the legendary 7 person pyramid and also married to Alida Wallenda.
And lastly, Ned Sullivan of the Concession Dept spotted me talking with Don Covington and said; " This year you brought a camera crew with you I see." Over the years I have talked with Ned at many different locations including RI, MA, VT, NJ, DC area. We will let everyone know when the program is schedule to appear that was filmed.
#4 KORA SHRINE CIRCUS
Hammid Circus Production
My first show of Saturday was the 9:30 performance of the Kora Temple Shrine Circus in Augusta, Me. to a crowd of about 60 percent capacity of the auditorium. This was the best presentation that I have ever scene at this date in many years. This date is produced by the James Hammid Circus of New Jersey for the second straight year. A class production company in the entertainment world.
The Hammid Family has taken this one ring format style date of over 20 years to a 2 ring show with theatrical lighting a smoke machine for visual effects. The most visual effect was the 2 lighted ring curbs. Lighted ring curbs can make any show stand out. After an absent of over 10 years this date had the best mixed cat act that is toring the US. 12 Tigers and 1 Lion presented by Jergen and Judit Nerger of the Hawthorn Corp. By the way I have scene this act many times over the years and always impressed as it is a real cat display instead of the educational acts that has 75 % of what they do is boring talk which some think is so impressive.
Others on the show included Greg and Karen Desantos of Wisconsin who is headed to Iowa for the next week-end, The Fabulous Darnells, the Campas, Lady Francie, David Connors & Co., The McIntyres, Princess White Feather with Ringmaster John Wilson, musical director Larry Rothbard, lighting director C Hammid anf floor boss Shane Hanson. This show had a running time of 2 hours with a short intermission. I am very impressed with the light sword competition this date has challenging one side of the auditorium to the other of who has the most lights. Unbeilable how many lighted swords are sold untill they all light up and the lights go out.
**MY COMMENT - Last year I said this was the best show I have ever scene at the Kora Temple, but I now have to say, this years was the best. My only pet peave last year was all the yellow caution tape being used. This year very little was used and only in a few places. Just this alone made the show look so much more professional.
#5 ANNAH SHRINE CIRCUS
Royal Hanneford Circus
April 25After I attended the Kora Shrine Circus I drove 85+ miles to catch the 2PM performance of the Anah Temple Circus. In the second year of producing this show, Stuppi Hanneford brought in some of the top names of the Circus World for a quality production.
The Shrine Program was the same as Kora Temple at a cost of $1 The shows line up near perfect as most of the line up of displays of other shows are changed in the presentation. This performance had only 1 switch of Clown gags.
Every act was excellant, starting off with legiondary Ringmaster Charlie Van Buskirk who has worked this date for over 20 years, than Johnny Peers and his Muttville Comedy Mutts, The Bertinis Family Unicycles, Quick Change of the Smirnov, than came the house cats of Mayaa Panfilova. Of coarse it was Roger who filled in for the Chinese National Circus Trampolinest as they had not got back from Wal-mart. Kim Sue emceed this great act. Than the first half ented with Leo Garcia and the Wheel Of Destiny. I still say; Leo has the best and highest dismount of any wheel performers in the business today.
The intermission was way to long at 30 minutes with no rides of any kind. The second half started with the Valla Duo Cradel Act of Vlastic and Kim Sue, Jim Hall's Castle Performing Bears, The Shrine Clowns and last the Garcia Thrill Riders in the Globe along with the world's youngest rider 6 year old Maximus.The lighting and sound was handled by Travis Martin. Show ran 1 hour and 55 minutes.
** MY COMMENT - Last year the Hanneford's brought in their own lighting system which truely made that show great compared to years past. This year the performance went back to using the Temple's lighting that is so ancient as they are only white quarts lites. NO COLOR and does not do justice to the show or for the artist. I know this change was requested back in September by the Shriners for away to safe money. Is this a cost affective move? I don't think so. Customers in this age want class and expect it as they see it in everyday programing on TV and at other venues. This is scene by declining attendance at many events with ticket prices rising people expect more for their money, not less. Come on Anah Temple. Get into the modern age. By the way the show production was still the second best overall in many years of coming to this circus.
#6 LEWIS and CLARK CIRCUS Boyertown, PA On my way home from Toccoa, GA I stopped into Boyertown, PA to see the Bob Childress's Lewis and Clark Circus located in the towns recreation park. This is a true American Mud Show that plays small towns from their home is SC to PA and down thru the South in the fall before heading back to SC for the winter.
This small show is family friendly that features all the basic circus acts including animals (tigers, camel, goats, dogs, pony, horse) plus clowns, juggling rola-bolla, aerial and more. After the show in the midway area was a performance of a single wheel of destiny and Bob Childress with his 3 tigers.
Some of the acts and performers on the show for 2009 is Farmer Brown with goats and his camel, the Ayala Family Jose Jose the clown, Ringmaster Barry DeChant, Oriana, Emmanual, Elizabeth, the Martin Duo, juggling by Armando, Maria with horse and pony, and the Cop and Burgler routine of Gordy Goody's.During the day I talked with CFA and CMB Fred Hoffman and ? who had worked the lighting for many shows including last year in Maine for Jim Hammid.
If you are ever in the area of the Lewis & Clark Circus you don't want to miss this great little show as it is one of the last true mud shows traveling the country today. I want to give a special Tank-you! to Bob for his hospitality who is a true outdoor showmen from the entertainment industry.
A look at the front end and right side of the midway. Wheel on the right and the tiger trailer on the left.
A star is born as this young goat takes to stardum as he rides on the backs of the donkey and lama.
The Lewis and Clark petting zoo.
After each performance Bob Childress presents his 3 tigers in a cage outside of the tent on the midway. This year also presented prior to the Tigers is a single wheel of destiny.
#7 COLE BROTHERS
After stoping off for the day at Quansett RI for the airshow featuring the Blue Angels and the Canadian Snowbirds I drove 2 hours to Plymouth, MA for the Cole Brothers All-star Circus located next to the municpal airport.
Probally the best performance in years that I have seen in years on this show. It is an excellant and very strong show. The weather was extremely nice this day as the show had 27 straight days of some type of rain.
Prior to the 7:30 show - John Ringling North II and Casey Cain drove over from the KM show which was appearing about 20 miles away with a 5:30 show. Later Armando Loyal showed up (Armando has 3 elephants from the Miller Orginzation on KM) and was talking to Louie Delmorale who also had 3 more from the Miller herd.
Hi-lites of this years show was Caroline and Mike Rice with 3 turns. Caroline's dog routine is one of the best that I have scene. Than it was Mike with his educated Mule and after intermission it was Mike and 4 camels. The best camel act that I have seen in years on any show. Starting off the show was a 3 riders in Elvin's splitting globe. Than a 7 person high wire walk, a fast paced wheel of destiny who was later shot out of the cannon. And of coarse the 3 Miller elephants presented by Louie DeMorale who never once used the hook on any of the stars of the show. Even during the rides he worked 2 elephants with just his voice. This is the way it should be. After the show we had a long jack-pot session as at first I didn't reconized Louie from 2 years ago as he had a haircut and now he is married and expecting. Even than he used only his voice with Doug Tenavors elephants at Circus World in Baraboo.
Pictured here is Kelley Miller owner John Ringling North II (left) visiting Cole Brothers owners John Pughs (right) and Elvin Bale (center) at the 7:30 evening performance. Kelly Miller was playing about 30 miles to the south.#8 KELLY MILLER CIRCUS
The next morning I drove a couple of hours up to Plainville, MA to see the arrival of the Kelly Miller Circus. The trucks were just being spotted on the lot. And in an hour or so the tent would be starting to go up. Local spectators started coming to the lot to see the tent rising. This is one of only a few that uses the tent rising as a public relations promotions for the date.
KM is one of the smoothiest running shows that I have seen from set up to tear down as everyone knows what they are doing. During the day I talked with quit a few of the shows personnel and locals including Bob Lessard the shows agent for this area and local Kevin Malin who did the bill-postering and advertised this date.
Some of the acts and performers of this 2009 show. John Moss 3rd was Ringmaster, Flying Trapeze was the Flying Fernandes, The SkyCycle incline wire was performed by Mavel and Patsy Luna, on the rolla-bolla was Fridman Torales, Casey and the tigers, music was done by Lucky Eddie and Vickie Straeffer, Raul Olivares Guerrero did 2 acrs, Clowns were Steve Copeland and Ryan Combs, Natalie Cainan and her Canine Capers, Patsy Luna with Hulla Hoops, Spanish Web by Courtney Heidenreich, aerial performance by the Lauwana Lady, and Armando Loyal with 3 of the Miller elephants lead by Lisa.
A new PR event happened about an hour before the afternoon performance when the local fire department brought out a pumper to give the elephants a bath.. Even the elephants enjoyed this time as you can see by the pictures. The crowd that gathered now has something to talk about for along time as does the firemen.
On top of the fire truck a fireman sprays the hose over the elephants.How wonderful as the elephants partied in the water!
The crowd gathered for the elephant bath in Plainville. Not many towns can have this happening.After the show and at intermission there was plenty of rides given by two Asia elephants. In this picture is Armando Loyal walking with Lisa.Prior to the show I talked with Armando Loyal who the night before was over visiting with the CB troup and Caroline and Mike Rice and Louie DeMorale. That night he knew I looked familiar and the next morning I told him that we had met a few times over the years starting with Ed Migley's show at Soldiers Field in Chicago. After the show he want my candid opion of his act as this was only his second year of presenting elephants and he knew I have seen many other handlers. I told him there was nothing bad I could say about him or the act as everything went smooth and no use of the hook as this is the way it should be. Only voice commands were given even on the rides. We all agree this is the new age and other elephant handlers should follow.
Miller's 3 elephants as you can see not chained up and loose in a pen.
Spectators purchasing tickets for the afternoon performance.Getting the novelty stand ready for the first show of the day.
The crowd arrives for the show on the circus midway.
If you're in the area of a KM date, you don't want to miss this show from set-up to tear down on a class show owned by John Ringling North II, one of the best looking traveling one ring circus in this country.
#9 WALKER BROTHERS CIRCUS
Booth Bay Fire Department
Booth Bay, ME
On a wet Wednesday I drove 4 hours south to see the Walker Brothers Circus. The show was scheduled to play at the Railroad Museum but had to move to the fire station lot as the original grounds was to wet from all the rain that has been coming down in the area. It rained all most all of the day. Inside of the tent was a few big water holes. Most were covered up by hay that was put down but the ground was still wet. This date was sponsored by the fire department and had a tremendous turn out for the weather conditions. Scene on the lot was Maine CFA members Norm Waycott and Barbara Moore along with Monica and Earl Moore and Conn. CFA member Gary Cooper who was about 4 1/2 hours from his home.
This was a smooth running show with alot of talent. With it raining outside at least you could stay dry inside, not like some tents that I have been into. The first show started a little late as we had to set up an extra section of bleachers to handle this straw house. Even than there was still a few sitting on the ground by the inflatable bounce.
Prior to the doors opening to the big top the local crowd was lined up to see the show even in the rain.
Maine CFA member Norm Waycott helping out in the front door taking tickets during this performance.
CFA's White Tops advertising manager Barbara Moore is helping out in the concessions trailer. When ever Walker Brothers comes to Maine you can always find Barb on the lot some wheres.
For a rainy day and just a few advance tickets the afternoon performance was a strawhouse. With vary little parking on the grounds, the fire department was shuttling the patrons from a satelite parking lot about a mile away.
During intermission a temp.concession stand was set-up by the ring to help with the straw house crowd who lined up for popcorn and snow cones. Back to is veteran concessionier Popcorn.
Luciarno the shows clown seen here selling the Walker Brothers coloring book.
There was many pitches during the intermission including photos with a giant snake, sitting on a pony, along with Sponge Bob, an inflatable bounce house.
On the way out, you could even buy these giant balloons.
Another great small town circus that you don't want to miss if it comes to your area.
# 10 CIRCUS ZOPPE
Altamont, NYThe great Circus Zoppe appeared once again at the Altamont Fair in Altamont, NY. This years performance once again added some new acts.
Prior to the show letting patrons into the big top there always is a display of jokes and music with the crowd. One of the only shows that I go to that does this as a build up and also getting the patrons into the mood. At Altamont this is a free show 2 times aday.
Congradulation to Nino and his new bride.
The pre show prior to opening of the big top.
#11 CHINESE ACROBATS OF PEIKING
Erie County Fair
Hamburg, NYThis years America's Fair didn't have much in the Circus theme acts. Once again the Peking Acrobats were on the stage. This year the acts were changed from years past. Emcee this year was Charlie Van Buskirk as John Kennedy Kain who has done this fair for years was working on the Hammid Circus.Charlie Van Buskirk emceeing the Peking Acrobats. A few weeks later I ran across Charlie at The Champlain Valley Fair and off coarse he will be at the Big E and the Topsfield Fair both in Mass.
#12 FLYING WALLENDA'S
Union, METino Wallenda brought his outdoor style show to the Union Fair and Blueberry Festival this year for 2 performances per day. An open air show with no sidewalls, The Wallenda family performed juggling, areial liar, clowning by JP, and of coarse the famous Wallenda Hi-wire act.#13 Champlain Valley Fair
Essex Jct., VT
The sign out front with show times for the Big Top Circus.
At 7PM the show started the tear down. Just about 2 1/2 hours later this was the scene of the big top. A crew of about 15 was working on the tear down. About 8 of the workers were local guys. Everything loaded into 2 box trailers and 1 flat trailer pulled by pick-ups. No big CDL trucks needed. Look who is relaxing prior to the afternoon performance.
#14 GALAXY GIRL
Vermont State Fair
Rutland, VT Sept 8
The Galaxy Girl (Tina) performed 3 times a day on her 127 foot high aerial sway pole. Also on the performance was Ashley Star with her Hola Hoop routine and than the Cyber Dome with Jupiter Justin and Johnny Rocket riding in the 18 foot sphere. Actually I forgot to take any pictures of this years set-up or acts. I guess my mind was on my performance that shook the grounds.
#15 PEKING ACROBATS
Big E's Comcast Stage
West Springfield, MA Sept 20 #16 ROYAL HANNEFORD CIRCUS Big E Super Circus West Springfield, MA Sept 20#17 CIRCUS HOLLYWOOD Rochester Fair Rochester, NH Sept 21#18 THE FLYING WALLENDA'S
Each year a standing room, overflow crowds attend the great Deerfield Fair and the outdoor arena circus, this year once again produced by Tino Wallenda. If you come to Deerfield and want to be seated for this show I would advise anyone to be seated at least an hour before the schedule time as the seats fill very rapidly and has a small seating compacity.Tino performing a headstand on the highwire.
Tino Wallenda performing on the highwire standing on a chair while balancing on the silver strand some 30 feet in the air with no safety net below.
The Flying Corteze was the featured act of this years show performing on the Flying Trapeze at this yearly event.
Once again I ran across the former Bailey's Comet and now back on theFlying Wallenda's Family Circus as JP the Clown.This was the most considerate person I have seen in years. She stood in front of many seated patrons who had come early to see the show. She even refused to move backwards even after being asked politely by a few seated spectators. I quess she was a Queen in her mine and everything was suppose to look up to her. That's my opinion.
#19 RINGLING BROTHERS, BARNUM, and BAILEY CIRCUS
Manchester, NH October 2A Ringling Banner hangs high in front of the Verizon Center in Manchester advertising the Greatest Show On Earth.
In the back lot of the VC is one of many circus wagons that are loaded onto and off the circus train at each location.
These RBBB horses was looking out their window watching the traffic on the busy side street.
One of the ladies being walked back to the farm after having a photo shoot with one of the Verizon Centers sports team. Leading the way is Joe Frisco with the black cap.Prior to the evening performance at the VC each year, the local NH Chapter of the CFA has a meeting and luncheon.Each year they have a quest speaker from Ringling which was Tom Dougherty the star of this edition of the Greatest Show On Earth. Pictured here is Norm Waycott, Tom, and Ernie Tarbox who both are from Maine and has known Tom for many years.
During the intermission Tom came up to visit with the CFAers who came to the show in a group of over 30 to enjoy a great show. Each member has a different opion on the show. Some are for the new wave of spectators while others are purist of the old ways of the circus. What ever way you are, I would say on certain shows the crowds are deminishing as you can see in the background. I would say their was less than 25% of the seating sold for this performance that could have been sold. Unavailable seats that was blocked of, I would say was about one third of the total house capacity.#20 CIRCO AEREO (ESPRESSO)
Collins Center For The Arts
University of Maine
This performance was the worst presentation of any shows that I have seen using the title CIRCO or even CIRCUS. A performance from a production company of Finland who has many units touring the world, this one was dreadfull. The only thing they did was juggle and the spanish web in a 75 minute production that dragged on and on with only a five member cast of 0ne women and 4 guys. The only thing I can say positive is they did a few things that I have never seen before on the web and in the line of juggling. The only prop that was used thru out the show was walking canes. Capacity of this show drew about 30% of the seating and the schedule performance time of 7 P.M. (the show started 15 minutes late). The lowest ticket price was $20 which was not worth the price of this show.
My only opinion is not to waste your money on this show if it comes to an area near you.
And for the Collins Center you need to find better circus style shows as lately every type of circus acts you bring to the center are getting worse. Remember Cirkus Zoppe and the best one was Circo Eloise who is still traveling thru out the US as of 2008.
This should be my last revue this year as winter is coming soon. I hate to say that my 2009 revues was down over 50 % compared to previous years and has me down in the dumps as soom of my regular shows that I see each year I could not get to. Some of what I missed this year was the New Ringling Show, Shrine Show of Hamid in West Springfield, Mass as I was working on the CMT program. Circus Smirkus as I was out of the New Enland area. Circus World Museum, Adventurland and Peru shows as I did not get past Ohio. I mist a circus at York during the spring as I read the date wrong and didn't get to the fall fair for Hanneford. Plus a few other shows because of low funds and taking it easy on my car who now has over 320,000 miles on it.
I am hoping 2010 will be a much better year.