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Saturday, May 22, 2010



At traveling circus, it's all about the spectators
By Clara H. Vaughn • Staff Writer • May 22, 2010
ONANCOCK -- The spectators at a circus focus on the performance.
The performers at the traveling circus that arrived in town for three shows this week focused on the spectators.
"The audience forgets about the things going on in their lives," said Ringmaster Rebecca Ostroff. "They become the act. It's so close, so kinetic."
After several years without stopping on the Eastern Shore, the Lewis and Clark Circus returned Monday and Tuesday to a warm welcome at the Onancock School grounds despite cloudy, rainy skies.
All ages came out to enjoy the one-ring, European-style circus featuring acts like trapeze artists, acrobats, clowns and animal acts, all under a big yellow-and-red-striped tent.
Traditional circus fare including cotton candy, popcorn and funnel cakes, and a midway featuring a petting zoo, face painting and camel rides made for a circus experience reminiscent of bygone days.
While for some the circus marks a fun evening out, for performers like Ostroff, it is a lifestyle.
Ostroff began her performing career as a dancer in New York City. In 1986, a friend convinced her to go to the International All-Star Circus to try her hand at it."My friend said I could earn $450 in three days," she said. "That was a lot in those days."Realizing circus work allowed her to fulfill her passion for dance, Ostroff was hooked."I decided to get a trapeze and join," she said. "I ran away with the circus officially in 1987."Since then Ostroff and her husband have worked under many circuses, she as a trapeze and silkscreen artist, he as a live musician.
Ostroff began with the Lewis and Clark Circus in 2004.
In March of this year, Ostroff took over as ringmaster of the show, "because I like to talk," she joked.
She says that while circuses have had to downsize, the experience is "similar to how it was in the old, old days.
"This year's big top housed performances ranging from the lighthearted antics of Jose Jose, a clown with a zest for music, to breath-holding physical feats as one performer dangled from the top of the tent by only her teeth.
All in all, about 30 people travel with the circus."We're like a family. We are a family," said Ostroff, saying her favorite part is "when people come and they love it."
Lewis & Clark is playing Fruitland, Md. Today
Tomorrow and Monday Hurlock, MD


AquaVitaFilms — April 21, 2010 — In the African jungle, conservationist Damian Aspinall searches for Kwibi, a lowland gorilla he hasn't seen for 5 years. Kwibi grew up with Damian at his Howletts Wild Animal Park in England. When he was five, he was released into the forests of Gabon, West Africa as part of conservation programme to re-introduce gorillas back into the wild. Now Kwibi's 10 years old, much bigger and stronger. Will Damian find him? Will Kwibi attack him?


Circus Thrills, Minus the Big Top
Published: May 20, 2010
On Memorial Day weekend, circus acts similar to those that traveled the Hudson Valley more than 200 years ago are coming to Van Cortlandt Manor for three days of performances. With participants in period costumes and acts like slack-rope walking, sleight of hand, storytelling, mime and Punch and Judy shows, “Animals and Acrobats,” in its 21st year, recreates the origins of the American circus.
“The roots of the circus go back to ancient Rome,” said Michael Natiello, the special events project manager for Historic Hudson Valley, which maintains seven sites, including Van Cortlandt Manor. The Latin word “circus” comes from the Greek “kirkos,” meaning circle or ring, he said.
The main stage at “Animals and Acrobats” is a ring 42 feet in diameter, the standard size in circuses since 1768; performances will also be held in two smaller areas. This year’s lineup includes several new acts, like a Different Spin, a troupe of fire jugglers and acrobats who met while they were students at Vassar; Bells & Motley, two musicians who play rare instruments like the hurdy-gurdy; and the Invisible Lady, who answers audience questions from her glass box. Cristal Stevens, one of the three musical acts, will play guitar while stilt-walking. And Jonathan Kruk, an award-winning storyteller, will serve as the Menagerie Man, providing historical context for the acts.
Live animals — kangaroos, lemurs, a kinkajou and more — will be presented by Two by Two Zoo, and the Flight of the Raptor, a demonstration of birds of prey, will take place three times daily. Atka, the ambassador wolf from the Wolf Conservation Center in South Salem, will be on hand Sunday and Monday.
Visitors can also tour the ferry and manor houses, take a horse-drawn wagon ride, buy picnic food (provided by Geordanes in Irvington) and browse a shop selling period books and toys.
“The circus is a timeless thing,” said Mr. Natiello, who estimated that between 6,000 and 9,000 people would attend the event, which will span 10 acres.
“Ten acres may sound like a lot,” he said, “but there is so much to see and do that it doesn’t feel like it.”
“Animals and Acrobats,” May 29 to 31, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., at Van Cortlandt Manor, off Route 9 in Croton-on-Hudson. $12; $10, ages 62 and older; $6, ages 5 to 17; free under age 5; horse-drawn wagon rides $4. For tickets, a full schedule of events and more information: (914) 631-8200 or
from the NY TIMES


The UniverSoul Circus, billed as the only African American-owned circus in the world, is performing at the Capital Plaza Mall in Landover Hills, featuring slam-dunking acrobats, high-wire walkers, dancing dogs and, yes, elephants dancing to R&B. The show's appearance in Prince George's County is a rite of spring.
UniverSoul, world's only African American-owned circus, has poodles and passion
By DeNeen Brown, Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, May 22, 2010
There is the damp mist of spring in the air and the voices of children and the aroma of funnel cakes sprinkled with powdered sugar. There is the promise of white tigers, dancing poodles, elephants and acrobats flying, pale-orange scarves trailing. The sweet, sticky smell of cotton candy blows over the huge expanse of blacktop at the Capital Plaza Mall in Landover Hills, turning the crummy parking lot of what someone once called the loneliest mall in the area into a fairy tale, with a big top under which one can expect to find happiness. If for only a couple of hours.


It took $19,000 to buy this Hubley toy calliope at an RSL auction in Oldwick, N.J. It is in mint condition and has the original box, which adds to the value. Circus toys are very popular. Photo: Contributed Photo / The News-Times Contributed

Children love the circus, so what better toy than a model circus parade. In the late 19th century, cages of animals were drawn by horses through the main part of town to announce the circus had arrived.
They also featured music and spangled costumes and were a major event in town. By the 20th century, circuses had to compete with radio, then TV. But in the early 1960s, the circus parade returned and can still be seen in some cities. That's why 21st-century children understand the circus toys of the past.
Toy replicas of circus wagons, animals and performers were made by many toy companies, including Schoenhut, Kenton Hardware, Arcade, Kingsbury and Hubley. The Hubley circus, made from 1906 to 1919, had an iron "Royal Circus" calliope wagon that carried a music-making machine. In October, a 16-inch-long calliope with horses, in mint condition with the box, was auctioned for $19,000. The original price in 1915 was $5.98.

Friday, May 21, 2010




Fair season opens with a Harleysville festival
Published: Thursday, May 20, 2010
Warning: the Memorial Day holiday weekend is closer than you think.
For the last 43 years, Memorial Day weekend has meant Harleysville Country Fair Days at the Harleysville Community Center at 435 Park Drive, Lower Salford.
The rides and games open the Wednesday before Memorial Day, providing an early start to the holiday weekend that marks summer's unofficial start, and runs through Saturday. This year, those dates are May 26-29.
Oscar's Amusement Company returns as the ride provider, which means favorites like the Gravitron, the Sizzler and the Startrooper are back.
Organized by the Harleysville Jaycees, which has been around 55 years, Country Fair Days is the organization's largest fundraiser, and supports local charities and nonprofit organizations, including the Harleysville Community Center, Souderton Area High School Drug and Alcohol Resistance Team, and the Harleysville YMCA.
Justin Jandrisitz, the Country Fair Days publicity chair for the Harleysville Jaycees, said one thing your dollars spent on food and beverage tickets do is provide turkeys to local families in need, come Thanksgiving.
The Jaycees are easy to spot during Country Fair Days. They're the ones with the yellow shirts cooking food by the baseball stadium entrance and the pool complex.
"Last year we set a record in sales of wings," said Jandrisitz, mentioning one of the menu options.


Shrine Circus comes to Marathon Park
May 20, 2010
Come one, come all, when the Wisconsin Valley Shrine Club hosts its annual Shrine Circus this weekend.
The big top will be open for shows at 3 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Saturday and at 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. Sunday at the Marathon Park Ice Arena, 1201 Stewart Ave., Wausau.
The annual event, which was created more than 40 years ago, is used to raise money for the nearly 20 Shriners Hospitals for Children in the United States.
"Shriner's and the circus go hand in hand," said James Rox, circus coordinator. "It's a traditional family event and also our number one fundraiser.
"This year's circus, such as those in the past, will feature traditional fare including clowns and exotic animals, such as lions and elephants.Beverages and snacks such as peanuts, hot dogs and cotton candy will also be available for purchase.Despite changing times, the circus still remains a popular attraction for families, Rox said.
"There's always a fresh batch of kids who want to go to the circus. And the parents, they remember what it was like when they were kids," Rox said. "The light in the childrens' eyes when they go to the circus for the first time, that's what keeps me going."
Tickets for the circus cost $12 for children 12 and younger and $16 for adults and children 13 and older.
-- Dan Richter, for the Wausau Daily Herald


The circus is coming to townNEWTON — The Newton Fire Department and the Newton Fire Department Ladies Auxiliary are sponsoring Circus Vidbel on Sunday, May 23, at the Sussex County Community College in Newton, lower practice field.
Show times are 2p.m., 4:30 p.m., and 7 p.m.


By Mike McGinley
mmcginley@timesleader.comFeatures Writer
Home // Features Friday, May 21, 2010

At times, Chris Connors’ boss will ask him why he’s just standing around.
Ringmaster Chris Connors of the Cole Brothers Circus of the Stars will introduce the performers at PNC Field in Moosic this weekend.
Connors, a 43-year-old ringmaster with the Cole Brothers Circus of the Stars, always gives the same response.
“I say I’m watching the people,” he explained. “The audience is my main concern.”
Maybe that’s because he remembers being in the audience year after year, as a young child and while working in corporate America, before he decided to join the circus full time.
“This was my childhood dream: to run away and join the circus,” the New York native said.
Connors and his colleagues, who include trapeze performers, clowns, elephants, tigers and zebras, will put on shows at PNC Field on Montage Mountain today through Sunday.
As ringmaster, Connors has the pleasure of opening the circus with the familiar line: “Ladies and gentleman, boys and girls, children of all ages …”
“I’ve had people say they get so excited for that,” Connors said.
It’s his job to introduce the acts, some of which are dangerous and others that are meant to make children laugh.
“I think the young people are just thrilled to see the elephants, zebras and tigers,” he said.
The tigers, which haven’t performed in the circus since 2004, returned this year, much to the delight of Connors, who considers their part of the performance his favorite.
Two tigers jump through two hoops of fire at the same time and do a “bottle walk” in which they perform a special tiger act with lights.
“It’s done in the dark, and it’s really impressive,” Connors said, noting he doesn’t think any other circus does such a performance.
While Connors favors the tiger acts, he also has great affection for the clowns.
“I actually was a clown at one time,” he said.
“It’s funny because years ago ringmasters always told me you always get a break when the clowns are on,” he said. “For some reason I don’t get a break.”
Instead, he spends their stage time interacting with them.
“They’re quite funny,” he said.
Their big moment comes when clown Kaellan and his wife take a taxi cab to their honeymoon but never make it.
“The car splits in half,” Connors said.
The doors come off, too, and the clowns are left to entertain the audience.
In another instance, the husband and wife, both in real life and on the clown circuit, do a “revolving-ladder comedy up in the air on a big ladder,” Connors said.
In addition to the clowns’ antics and the tigers’ bravery, guests can see a free-style motor show, a human cannonball and an aerial ballet.
Connors said the lineup and acts change almost every year.
“I always tell people don’t expect the same style show you’ve seen in the past,” he said.


UniverSoul Circus Kicks Summer Off in the Northeast

International Star-Studded Cast Set to Play Newark, Hartford and Boston in June


May 20 /PRNewswire/ --

UniverSoul Circus invites fans of all ages in the Northeast to take a "daycation" and "Let Some Fun Shine In" this summer as it debuts an all-new show WE PLAY TOO MUCH...! in the Northeast beginning June 9 in Newark. As part of the much anticipated, 30-city US tour, UniverSoul Circus will bring its funky signature-style show with acts from around the globe to Newark, Hartford, CT and Boston this summer.
UniverSoul Circus sets the stage where generations of family can come together and enjoy each other dancing in the aisles and singing their hearts out. Now in its 17th season, UniverSoul Circus continues to inspire and delight fans with incredible performances by world class acts like the Shanghai aerialists performing a synchronized aerial dance never seen before in the United States; the hottest high-flying stunt basketball players from Europe; an entourage of South and Central American dare devils that push boundaries with their fearless high wire number; and a furious yet loveable tiger act. Another notable act this year is "The Russian Dog Whisperer," Irina Markova and her amazing canine companions, who starred in this year's Sundance Film Festival, short documentary selectee aptly named "The Poodle Trainer" featuring Markova and her extended family of 14 poodles.
This uniquely interactive and awe-inspiring circus maintains multi-generational appeal by combining traditional circus arts such as high flying trampoline shenanigans; teeterboard maneuvers and foot juggling with fast-paced, non-stop action for 120 thrill-filled minutes. And at UniverSoul Circus, to top off the fun, the audience always becomes a part of the show! Come Play With Us and join in the fun for the entire family! Visit for tickets, show times, schedules, and directions.
The Northeastern 2010 UniverSoul Circus Tour is as follows: Newark, NJ – 430 Broad Street (next to Bear Stadium) – June 9 - 20 Hartford, CT – 615 Silver Lane, East Hartford (Rentschler Field) – June 23 - 27 Boston, MA – Northeastern University Columbus Avenue Parking Lot – June 29 - July 5


Molto Bello!
Celebrated clown returns to Queens with Big Apple Circus after nine years away
By Anna Gustafson, Thursday, May 20, 2010
Entertainers from around the globe will descend upon Cunningham Park in Fresh Meadows this week when the Big Apple Circus launches its 14-show run that features Bello Nock, a world-renowned daredevil clown who describes his antics as something between Evel Knievel and Kramer from “Seinfeld.”
Nock, who has returned to the Big Apple Circus after a nine-season hiatus, will be joined by acrobats from Italy and Russia, a juggler from Spain, and trapeze artists from China for the 32nd season of the Big Apple Circus. The shows run from May 22 to June 6 in Cunningham Park.
“This year the show is called ‘Bello is Back,’ because it’s based around me, a comic daredevil who comes back to a place he’s been away from for many years,” Nock said. “But there is so much more to the show than this one guy. You have a husband-and-wife team from France and Kazakhstan working together with horses. We have a Bulgarian and Russian group who play and have a lot of fun. It’s amazing.”


Thursday, May 20, 2010


click to enlarge and read



Here are some pics of the bulls carried by Fisher Bros. in 1977 at their Vermont stand. As I recall only one performed in the show.
One of the other bulls had a crippled right hind leg.


Spring Flair to be held at Allegan County Fairgrounds this weekend.
By Anonymous

The Holland Sentinel Posted May 19, 2010

Holland, MI — The Allegan County Fairgrounds will be the site of the first Spring Flair scheduled to happen this weekend. The flair (short for farm, lawn, agriculture, indulge, rides) will offer fun for all ages and will have a garden focus but will include a demolition derby and carnival rides.
Also featured will be demonstrations by the Allegan Fire District, a petting zoo, and pony and cattle show.
The event takes place 3 to 11 p.m. Friday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday. Admission is $3; children under 10 are free. Tickets for the 6 p.m.
Saturday demolition derby are $5, and wristbands to ride all day on the carnival rides cost $20.


Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus is en route to Hershey
By SUE GLEITER, The Patriot-News
May 19, 2010

The Greatest Show on Earth is celebrating its 200th anniversary.

So, in true Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey style, the latest edition of the circus is big. So big they are calling it FUNundrum.

The 130 performers along with elephants, cowboys, pirates and mermaids will make its annual stop in the midstate over the extended Memorial Day weekend, May 27-31 at the Giant Center in Hershey. The circus will run over six days with 10 performances.

You’ll see the trapeze work of the Flying Caceres, the contortions of the Puyang Troupe from China and the strongest man in the world, Mighty Meetal.

An hour before the show is the All Access Pre-show. It’s free to ticket holders who will have the opportunity to step into the ring and meet the performers, get their autographs and even try on their costumes.

“It’s the party before the party. It gets everyone all hyped and ready for the show,” said Andre McClain, pre-show host.

McClain, who grew up on a ranch in Kansas City, Mo. and worked in rodeo, has been with Ringling Bros. since 2002. He likes to say he traded in the greatest show in dirt for the greatest show on the earth.

He now heads training exotic animals for Ringling. So, along with horses and Texas longhorns, he works with camels, llamas, zebras and the newest performer, a rare Watusi. The African steer has horns that grow six feet from tip to tip and is a crowd pleaser.

“I learned if you can train a horse you can train any animal,” McClain said.



YMCA and Kiwanis Bring the Circus to New Canaan July 1 & 2

by Susan Eng May 19, 2010
On Thursday, July 1, and Friday, July 2, Circus Vidbel will be appearing in New Canaan. The circus will be held at Saxe field, and there will be two shows each day, at 3 pm and 6 pm.
Proceeds from the event benefit teen programs at the YMCA and Outback Teen Center.
Tickets are now on sale at the New Canaan YMCA Front Desk, as well as at the following local merchants: The Bank of New Canaan (Elm Street), Baskin Robbins New Canaan, Bob's Sports, First County Bank New Canaan, New Canaan Diner, Elm Street Books, Gelatissimo, and TD Bank New Canaan.
Ticket prices are $15 per person in advance or $20 at the door. Children under two are free.
"We're excited to be partnering with Kiwanis to support our community's teens with a fundraising event everyone in the family can enjoy," said YMCA Executive Director Craig Panzano.
Added Kiwanis president Eloise Killeffer, "It's our hope to create a community tradition that children and families will look forward to each year and remember for years to come."
Circus Vidbel—a family-run, one-ring, old-time circus—has been performing across the United States for more than 20 years. Performances under the big top tent include Susan Vidbel in a breathtaking aerial cloud swing display, an aerial hoop performance, dog and horse acts, an African acrobatic troupe, and jugglers. There will also be plenty of traditional circus laughter brought on by the genius of the Vidbel clowns. The show is suitable for families with children of all ages, and no wild animals are part of the performance.


The Next Big Circus Comes to Town'Le Grande Cirque' offers amazing athletes and amusing comedy in brisk show at Trop

By Lori Hoffman Posted May. 19, 2010
The European circus movement has found a popular home in Atlantic City showrooms over the past 15 years. The latest Cirque show in the town’s history, Le Grand Cirque, is now wowing crowds in the Tropicana Showroom, produced by David King’s Spirit Productions, the man behind The Spirit of the Dance and other shows that have played Atlantic City.
And, in late June, Neil Goldberg returns to town with Cirque Dreams Jungle Fantasy at the Trump Taj Mahal.
These two bookings, as well as V: The Ultimate Variety Show coming to Trump Plaza on June 29, present a nice counterbalance to the big name — and often expensive — headliner shows that dominate casino showrooms in the spring and summer seasons. Shows like Le Grand Cirque are family oriented and are reasonably priced.
In a recent interview, the creative director of Le Grand Cirque, Simon Painter, explains its appeal. “I suppose that we are really all about the spectacle,” Painter says. “There’s a lot of group acrobatics, guys that climb up poles, nine people riding one bike. It’s just a really big production and a big cast production with about 40 people traveling with it, and they’re artists. The show is just full of lights and music, and we’ve made it as wide as possible — kids from two to 92 will enjoy the show.”
The show is orchestrated by a comedic ringmaster, played by Darren Partridge, who begins the show by strolling in the audience looking for a volunteer to complete his first silent comedy bit, enticing a woman onto the stage for a romantic picnic. It is all done in mime with him stealing a kiss at the end of the bit and escorting his heartthrob back to her seat.
Later in the show he will conduct the audience in a bout of organized clapping that doesn’t always go as planned, to the point that he feels the need to give an audience member a “time-out.” However, the comic highpoint is when Partridge climbs into a giant balloon and appears to be doing a striptease while enclosed in the purple sphere. The punch line to the gag had the audience in stitches.
The comedy bits are a nice part of any Cirque production, but what fans come to see are human beings who appear to defy the limitations of the human form as they leap through hoops and tumble in breakneck fashion. One of the highlights of the evening was the troupe of tumblers known as “hoops divers” who fly and tumble through rings that are increasingly higher and higher off the ground. Their ability to leap into the air beyond their own height and do so without any assistance is mind-blowing entertainment.
If you’re into women who can contort themselves into what appear to be neck-breaking positions, you’ll enjoy the young ladies who balance candles on their hands, feet and heads.
If you’ve ever tried to keep a hula-hoop spinning on your body, you know it is a lot harder than it looks. The Cirque hoopster keeps half a dozen spinning on various parts of her body and does a really cool Slinky-like finish.
If you’ve seen the movie Ocean’s Eleven you’ve seen acrobats that climb up vertical poles and tumble between them using their legs to keep gravity from winning the battle.
It is also simple, but pretty amazing, to see people balancing on a standard-size bicycle, each jumping on in turn until there are nine acrobats on the bike. The show also features strong men and a strap acrobat.
Le Grand Cirque offers a show that should keep families amused and amazed.
‘Le Grand Cirque’Where: Tropicana ShowroomWhen: Now to June 16: Sat. 9pm; Sun. 7pm; Mon. 8pm; Tues., Wed. 3:30 & 8pmHow Much: $25 & $35


There are only six weeks left in the Federation Mondiale du Cirque's Second Annual Circus Photo Contest.
This year's contest allows you, as the photographer, to decide "what makes a circus a circus" through your camera lens. I hope that you will visit a circus before June 30, take some great photos, fill out an entry form and submit your photos at
Rodney Huey
Fédération Hosts Second Annual Worldwide Circus Photo
Monte-Carlo, Monaco – The Fédération Mondiale du Cirque, under the patronage of H.S.H. Princess Stephanie of Monaco, is hosting its second annual worldwide circus photo contest that is open to professional and amateur photographers, as well as circus friends and hobbyists. This year’s contest will focus on color photography and asks competitors to submit photos that answer the question: What makes a circus a circus?
Like the first contest, the winning photographs will be selected by an international jury of circus historians. H.S.H. Princess Stephanie will again select the “best of show” photograph. The winning photos will be published in a 2011 calendar, which will be available in September 2010.
Photographs must be in color and submitted electronically in jpeg format to before June 30, 2010 to be eligible for judging. Photographers may submit up to four photographs. Contest entries must be accompanied by an Official Entry Form available at

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


Mary McCray, 82, of Spencerville was the winner of an elephant ride at the Kelly Miller Circus Saturday in Spencerville, a fundraiser by the Spencerville Swimming Pool Committee. Children such as Carson Roberts, 5, of Spencerville, waited in line for a camel ride. The circus also featured tigers, trained dogs, ponies, jugglers, aerialists and a fire-breathing magician.



Erie, NY County Fair--August 2007


Baraboo-based clown Greg DeSanto, kneeling, holds a pastel self-portrait by renowned American clown Emmett Kelly Monday while discussing how to display it with clowning enthusiast and volunteer Sandy Weber of Highland Park, Ill. DeSanto and Weber were preparing for the Friday, 10 a.m. opening of the new International Clown Hall of Fame in The Business Center on Fourth Avenue at Oak Street on the Courthouse Square. Brian D. Bridgeford / News Republic

The Clowning Moment: Hall of Fame grand opening is Friday
Baraboo will have a new addition to its reputation as "Circus City" when the International Clown Hall of Fame and Research Center holds its grand opening at 10 a.m. Friday on the Courthouse Square.
Monday afternoon the smell of newly-laid carpet filled a large, colorfully-painted room in The Business Center on Fourth Avenue at Oak Street. On the floor lay a huge photograph of famous American clown Emmett Kelly (1898-1979), along with dolls of the respected entertainer and a large poster of TV variety show host and comedian Red Skelton (1913-1997), famous for his hobo clown character Freddy the more at


Cirque du Soleil's Banana Shpeel, a Mashup of Vaudeville, Circus and Theatre, Opens in NYC May 19

By Kenneth Jones, 19 May 2010

Forget the Big Apple. New York City is the Big Banana on May 19. At least that's what Cirque du Soleil would like you to believe on the opening day of Banana Shpeel, the troupe's new vaudeville-style theatrical show with circus acts.
Previews began April 29 at the Beacon Theatre on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. The show has been going through retooling since its world premiere in Chicago in fall 2009, and it's finally ripe.
David Shiner (star and co-creator of the Tony Award-winning Fool Moon) is Banana Shpeel's writer and director.
Banana Shpeel is billed as "a roller coaster mix of styles that blends intense choreography, crazy comedy and distinctive acrobatic acts. The show offers a diverse spectrum of performances including tap, hip-hop and eccentric dance, slapstick comedy and Cirque du Soleil acrobatic acts — plus madcap characters spreading chaos in all directions."read more at:


Editor's note: The following is an installment of a monthly column by first-year Stamford Mayor Michael Pavia, featured only in The Stamford Times.*
I will never forget how excited I felt as a kid when they announced that the circus was coming to town. Images of huge khaki tents, bright colors, dancing elephants, smells of hay, hotdogs and popcorn and the sound of what I can only recall as an organ grinder's circus music filled my memory. My brothers and I began badgering our parents as soon as we heard the news: "Will you take us to the circus? Will you take us to the circus?"
Well, every once in awhile, I get to have fun as mayor of Stamford, and this is one of those times: Ladies and Gentlemen, The fabulous Big Apple Circus is coming to town!
The Big Apple Circus will entertain thousands, help promote the Mill River Park Restoration project and enliven an already lively downtown Stamford for 16 days from July 9 to July 25. The mayor's office will be presenting a very special program, a Stamford Community Day performance of the Big Apple Circus, on July 13 at 7 p.m. And thanks to corporate sponsorship, tickets will be donated for that entire show. Half of the tickets for the show will be given to families who are engaged in the city's social services network and who might not otherwise be able to enjoy this spectacular event. The other half of the tickets will be given out through a volunteer program called Give in Service - See the Circus on a first come first serve basis to Stamford residents who volunteer service time at participating agencies throughout the city.
READ MORE AT:">The Big Top is coming to Stamford


Chef Nirobe Lowe Sr.of Cajun Cabin the French Quarter helps build part of a 340-foot oyster po-boy that stretches down a whole block of Bourbon St. Saturday March 27, 2010 as part of the fourth annual Louisiana Oyster Jubilee. Prepared by more than 30 of New Orleans' renowned restaurants, the colossal po-boy was stuffed with 5,500 locally harvested Louisiana oysters. The Oyster Jubilee is the biggest oyster party in New Orleans, presented by the Louisiana Seafood Promotion & Marketing Board and New Orleans Musical Legends, Inc. (NOML). The Jubilee celebrates oysters as an integral part of the unique culinary culture of Louisiana.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


Hi Dick
Here is part one of a three part set of the 1977 Fisher Bros. Circus Lot in Hartford, Vt
RJ Reynolds



Dogs entertain the crowd as the Cole Bros. Circus takes place on the grounds of the U-Sell Flea Market in Vineland on Monday. The circus is the sole fundraiser for Vineland Fire Volunteer Station 2, according to Chief Dan Weir. (Staff photos/Cody Glenn)

Tigers are back under the Big Top this year for the annual Cole Bros. Circus.
Tigers and all, the circus is back
By KRISTI FUNDERBURK • Staff Writer • May 18, 2010

Six tigers -- including a "liger," a mix of a lion and tiger -- joined the clowns, daredevils and acrobats after a six-year hiatus for the first of the circus' two-night visit to Vineland, Ron West, the show's senior marketing director, said.
All the acts are back at the U-Sell Flea Market on South Delsea Drive tonight for two more shows before the circus packs up and leaves town.
"As we know, times are tough, so step out of the real world and step into the fantasy world for a while," West said.The circus -- billed as the world's largest under the big top -- comes to town each year as Vineland Fire Volunteer Station 2's only fundraiser, station Chief Dan Weir said.
It's been a tradition since 1964, he said.West expects roughly 2,000 people per show.
The shows also include a family of three motorcyclists riding their bikes inside the ThunderDrome globe and another family of trapeze artists, West said. And a Coles Bros. Circus isn't complete without clowns and a human cannonball, he said.
The Palow family knows from last year that the animals and acts are worth the drive from Mays Landing.


When the circus comes to Trenton, it'll be a homecoming of sort for two performers with Garden State roots — Hunterdon County's Billy Murray and Barnegat's Anthony Lombardo are members of Ringling Bros. & Barnum and Bailey Circus. (Ringling Bros. & Barnum and Bailey Circus)

Ringling Bros. & Barnum and Bailey Circus lands in Trenton this weekend
When the circus comes to Trenton, it'll be a homecoming of sort for two performers with Garden State roots — Hunterdon County's Billy Murray and Barnegat's Anthony Lombardo are members of Ringling Bros. & Barnum and Bailey Circus.
The former is a clown and the latter, a saxophonist in the circus band.
"It's an unbelievable opportunity," Lombardo said. "I jumped at the chance. When I got the call, I was working four or five part-time jobs. I was working at Express at Ocean County Mall. I was beyond thrilled. It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity."
Lombardo plans to stay with the circus for about five years.


Details scarce on movie filming in Fillmore
By Karen Lindell Posted May 17, 2010
from the Ventura County Star
Ladies-s-s-s-s-s-s and gentlemen-n-n-n-n-n-n-n! Twen-n-n-n-nty-five minutes till the big show!” barks Cecil, a circus sideshow talker in the novel “Water for Elephants.
Well, the exact start time isn’t clear, but the circus — or at least the circus train — is coming to Fillmore this week.
The county of Ventura confirmed that a production company has taken out a film permit for Thursday to start shooting a movie in Fillmore. That project is likely a Fox 2000 film based on “Water for Elephants,” Sara Gruen’s best-selling Depression-era novel about a traveling circus.
No big tops have been reported in Fillmore or environs, but on Sunday, circus trains and wagons painted with the words “Benzini Bros. Most Spectacular Show on Earth,” the circus in Gruen’s book, were spotted in the city’s downtown.
People in Ventura County responsible for permits and other film shooting issues did not provide detailed information on the film, which is expected to star some well-known actors.
The lead roles are played by Oscar winners Reese Witherspoon and Cristoph Waltz, “Twilight” heartthrob Robert Pattinson, and Emmy and Tony winner Hal Holbrook.
Pattinson plays “young” Jacob Jankowski, a 23-year-old Ivy League veterinary student who, after his parents are killed just before he’s about to graduate, ends up working with animals at a circus.
Holbrook is “old” Jacob, the story’s narrator, when he is “ninety. Or ninety three,” living not so happily in a nursing home, where he reminisces about his circus days.
Witherspoon plays Marlena Rosenbluth, a circus performer who does an equestrian act. Waltz, who won as Oscar this year for “Inglourious Basterds,” plays her husband, cruel animal trainer August Rosenbluth.
The film’s screenplay is by Richard LaGravenese, with Francis Lawrence directing.


Early news reports noted that “Water for Elephants” would start filming in Santa Paula and Fillmore in May. Patty Harrison, film liaison for the Santa Paula Chamber of Commerce, and Patrick Maynard, film permit coordinator for the Fillmore Film Commission, said no film permit for “Water for Elephants” had been applied for in either city.
A meeting agenda for the Fillmore Film Commission dated April 7, however, noted that a “large production called ‘Water for Elephants’ is planned to be shot in the area. The production will go on for approximately 30 days.”
Fillmore’s Maynard did reveal that the city had rented a parking lot at Santa Clara and Mountain View streets to a company for a production called “Jerry Novak’s Big Adventure.”
On Monday, Ventura County senior planner Becky Linder confirmed that a production company has taken out a film permit to start shooting “Jerry Novak’s Big Adventure” in Fillmore and “other locations around the county” on Thursday.
“Jerry Novak” isn’t a character in the book, but on Sunday, at the Santa Clara and Mountain View site, a dirt lot near the tracks of the Fillmore & Western Railway Co., a large rental fence had been erected with a black covering around it. A look inside a crack in the gate revealed more than 10 red, yellow and orange boxy circus wagons, some with ornate decorations.
In Gruen’s book, she describes circus wagons that “are painted scarlet, with gold trim and sunburst wheels, each emblazoned with the name ‘Benzini Bros. Most Spectacular Show on Earth.”
In Fillmore, “Benzini Bros. Circus” was printed in gold letters on some of the wagons.
Also, on the tracks next to the lot, about 10 old-fashioned railroad cars — boxcars, flatcars and passenger cars — sat on the tracks. Painted maroon, several of them were printed with “Benzini Bros. Circus” and “Most Spectacular Show on Earth.” A few had bales of hay inside.
The Fillmore & Western Railway, which offers vintage train rides through Fillmore and Santa Paula, also coordinates and consults on film, TV and commercial productions that involve trains. The company said, as with any movie, it could neither deny nor confirm filming activity.


Monday, May 17, 2010



Circus comes to Turkmenistan after nine-year ban
The 'alien' big top was outlawed by country's late leader, along with cinema, opera and ballet
Kurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, president of Turkmenistan, attends a ceremony at the circus in Ashgabat. Photograph: Igor Sasin/AFP/Getty Images
The circus came to town in Turkmenistan yesterday … for the first time since the central Asian nation's late leader banned the big top nine years, Friday 23 April 2010Hundreds of children lined up outside a renovated Soviet-era arena in the capital, Ashgabat, for their first visit to the circus, a form of entertainment the eccentric autocrat Saparmurat Niyazov prohibited as "alien".
Niyazov, who ruled Turkmenistan for 21 years until his death in 2006, also banned the cinema, opera, ballet, lip-synching and even gold teeth.
His successor, President Kurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, has reversed those bans – except for ballet. He took in the opening show at the circus, hailing it earlier as a "state-level event".
Berdymukhamedov has launched market reforms and opened up the gas-rich nation's economy to foreign investors but has maintained the political system giving him unlimited powers.
Critics say he has also done little to strengthen human rights in the former Soviet republic, which has no opposition political parties or independent media. When it comes to the arts, however, he has proved much more liberal than Niyazov.
Under Niyazov, entertainment was limited to concerts, bars and night clubs. Until this year, the only "cinemas" in Ashgabat were halls equipped with a large television set and a DVD player where viewers could vote to choose the movie.

Main Event
Cole Bros. Circus in Vineland

What Is It: John and Brigitte Pugh, the owners of the Cole Bros. Circus, promise a new, fast-paced, two-hour show that appeals to all demographics. The circus company has been in business since 1884 in this country. It bills itself as the world's largest circus under the big top.
What To Expect: Adults will be awed by an aerialist. Younger members of the audience will be delighted by the antics of the clown, who dumps a bucket of water on a fellow prankster. Attractions include elephants, camels, jugglers, dogs and pony review, the Wheel of Destiny, Globe of Death, The Human Cannonball, tigers, zebras, llamas, flying trapeze and Columbia's Toprasta Troupe, whose members re-create the three-tier, seven-man pyramid on the high wire.
Event Info: The performances takes place at 5 and 8 p.m. today and Tuesday in the U-Sell Flea Market, 2896 South Delsea Drive, Vineland. Tickets are $17 for adults and $12 for children. For VIP or reserved seats, add $5 and $3 to the respective ticket prices. Free tickets for children are available at Tickets can be purchased by calling 888-332-5200 or online at