Circus Smirkus performers will return to Heritage Museums & Gardens in Sandwich this week with “Oz Incorporated,” a new spin on the “Wizard of Oz” story.
By CAPE COD TIMES
July 18, 2013
Circus Smirkus, Vermont's award-winning international youth circus, will present a different spin on “The Wizard of Oz” this week with six shows at Heritage Museums & Gardens in Sandwich. As part of its 26th annual Big Top Tour, the traveling troupe will present “Oz Incorporated,” billed in a press release as a new twist on the journey down the tale's famed yellow brick road.
According to press material, Circus Smirkus is the only American youth circus to travel “under canvas”; that is, the only youth circus to put on a full-season tour under its own big top – a 750-seat, one-ring, European-style tent. The touring company consists of about 80 people, including 26 performers ages 11 to 18. Also in the group are coaches, counselors, costumers, technical crew, tent crew, circus chefs and a live circus band.
The performers, known as troupers, are selected for skill, character and personality through an audition process that begins each fall. The group works closely with coaches, a choreographer, composer and costumer before hitting the road for a seven-week summer tour, with almost 70 performances scheduled for this year. During the course of the season, troupers learn the ropes of traditional circus life: hours of practice, full two-hour shows twice a day, and the demanding labor of loading the show in and out of a venue.
In addition to circus arts, the troupers learn about teamwork and community, and give back to the larger community through free performances at children's hospitals and nursing homes.
Over the years, according to the press release, Smirkus has received accolades from all over the world. It is the focus of the award-winning documentary, “Circus Dreams,” which has been shown in film festivals worldwide.
Smirkus troupers often go on to successful careers in the circus arts. Graduates have performed with Ringling Brothers, Big Apple Circus, Cirque du Soleil and circuses across Europe and Asia.
Circus Smirkus is the brainchild of Rob Mermin, who ran away to the circus himself at age 19. He performed as a clown for more than a decade in the national circuses of Europe, studied with Marcel Marceau and had his own show on Swedish television. When he returned to the United States, he served as director of Ringling Brothers Clown College. He created Circus Smirkus in 1987.
If you go:
What: Circus Smirkus.
When: 2 and 7 p.m. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.
Where: Heritage Museums & Gardens, 67 Grove St., Sandwich.
Tickets: $25, Children 2-12, $20, children under 2, free.
Information: www.heritagemuseumsandgardens.org or 508-888-3300.