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Thursday, November 24, 2011

Shalom, ‘Grandma’


This clown’s trademark character is patterned after Jewish grandmothers in Atlantic City. Maike Schulz/Big Apple CircusA star of the Big Apple Circus, Barry Lubin steps out of the ring after nearly three decades.

from: thisjewishweek.com

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

by Steve Lipman

The Big Apple Circus’ bubbe, overloaded purse in hand and sensible, rubber-soled shoes on her stocking-clad feet, is shuffling away from the big top.And with her go the ghosts of Barry Lubin’s own Jewish grandmothers, the ones he spent time with all those years ago in Atlantic City. Lubin, who created his alter ego, “Grandma,” the matronly figure with the red smock and the curly gray wig, more than 35 years ago, said he patterned the character after them, and any number of other Jewish grandmothers he saw on the Atlantic City boardwalk in the 1950s and ’60s. Rather than play a traditional clown, he would take his inspiration from them. He spent a career paying homage to them, and to grandmothers everywhere.
Lubin says he remembers Myrtle Weinberg and Ann Lubin, his bubbes, as “warm, nurturing individuals.” But his Grandma, who doesn’t speak while performing in the Big Apple Circus, is really everyone’s grandmother, with no discernible ethnic or religious characteristics. The typical crowd during a recent show was multi-racial and multifaith, including nuns in habit and Muslim women in the hijab. All laughed at Grandma’s antics.But the laughter for Grandma at the Big Apple Circus will stop next year.Lubin, who first crafted the role while working for the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus, has announced that this will be his last season (his 29th) as Grandma with the Big Apple Circus. He’s moving to Sweden.
The circus ends its current New York run on Jan. 8, and takes the show on the road. After its season closes in July, Lubin will settle in Sweden, where he has a girlfriend and post-Big Apple entertainment and education possibilities. “I will seek opportunities worldwide,” he says, preparing for a recent show.
“I am walking away from the dream job,” Lubin says, sitting at a table in a dressing room a hundred yards from the tent in Lincoln Center’s Damrosch Park. “It’s time for me to do other things with my life.”read more at:http://www.thejewishweek.com/news/new_york/shalom_grandma

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