Cole Bros. kicks off circus season in DeLand
BEACON PHOTO/JEN HORTON A couple of real clowns — Stephen Smith, left, and Cory Miller point to a sign in front of The Beacon advertising tickets for the Cole Bros. Circus. Smith and Miller are both clowns with Cole Bros.
By Jen Horton,WEST VOLUSIA BEACON STAFF WRITER
Mar 23, 2011
Cory Miller and Stephen Smith are a couple of real clowns. No, really, they’re both professional clowns who will be on tour with Cole Bros. Circus of the Stars.
Miller, Smith and Chuck Werner, senior marketing director for the circus, stopped by TheBeacon to talk about this year’s show — and about being a clown.
Werner said, in his experience, clowns are born, not made.
Smith, a former firefighter, has been a clown for 12 years, and just started touring with Cole Bros. in 2010. Clowning for a living is the realization of a lifelong dream for Smith.
“When I was 7 years old and people would ask me ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’ I would say ‘A clown,’” he said.
Miller has been a clown since he was 14.
He used to tell his mom he was going to run away and join the circus. Growing up in St. Louis, he learned some of the skills of the trade, like juggling, by talking to street performers.
This year will be Miller’s first with a circus.
BEACON PHOTO/MARSHA MCLAUGHLIN Stephen Smith — RJ the clown is having a pretty good time during DeLand’s dog parade
Both men said it’s rewarding to be the guys who make people smile.
“It’s just the magic; you help people forget their worries for a while,” Miller said.
“Our goal is to have folks come and experience the show and truly be able to forget about everything,” Smith added.
Clowning as an occupation does have hazards. Both Miller and Smith have worked private parties, events and grand openings. There have been pulled noses and stepped-on shoes.
Turns out, those items of clown apparatus aren’t cheap.
A good pair of clown shoes starts out at about $300; a good wig costs another $300.
“Just into the costumes, I probably have $8,000-$10,000,” Smith said.
That doesn’t include the unicycles, stilts, gags and juggling props, each adding to the price tag.
Makeup takes time, too. The men said good clown makeup is all about knowing your own face and your own expressions, and highlighting those features for the best effect.
Werner said, each year, the circus has a bit of a face-lift. It brings the audience a new show and keeps the feeling of magic fresh, he said.
This year, Cole Bros. has a new tent, with better seating capacity, and the seats are closer to the acts.
“No seat is more than 50 feet away from the show,” Werner said.
Clowns, of course, will be interacting with the audience.
Additionally, the big-cat show — lions and tigers — is back. There’s also an exotic-animal review featuring zebras, llamas, camels and ponies, and the Abduhadba Family and their Cartoon Poodles are back.
And, yes, there will be elephants.
Cole Bros. Circus has more animal entertainers than any other circus in America, Werner said.
Other features this year include the Flying Ponce Family on trapeze, a new aerial ballet, a motorcycle dome and the human cannonball.
Ringmaster Chris Connors will lead the show, which is being hosted by the DeLand Jaycees.
Showtimes are 4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, March 26, and 1:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. Sunday, March 27.
Tickets cost $19 for adults, and $14 for children ages 2-12. Reserved seats cost an extra $3, and VIP seating costs an extra $6.
Free children’s tickets are available at freekidstickets.com, or at several area stores.
Buy tickets at Beacon, J.C.’s
Tickets to the Cole Bros. Circus performances March 26 and 27 in DeLand may be purchased in advance at The Beacon, 110 W. New York Ave. in DeLand, and at J.C’s Bikes and Boards, 345 S. Woodland Blvd. in DeLand. For more information, visit www.gotothecircus.com