Circus Chickendog presents its annual holiday classic, “The Mutt-Cracker” opening Thursday at The Vortex
By Ari Auber, American-Statesman Staff
Dec. 26, 2012
Austin, Texas--Darren Peterson can truthfully say that he ran away to join the circus.
Then he came back, finished his degree at the University of Texas, and tried jobs teaching and editing books. Those didn’t stick like the circus did. When he started playing with his dog at the park, doing Frisbee tricks with her and drawing a crowd, he realized he had the opportunity to create his own show.
“I started thinking, couple what we were doing in the park with my juggling, and I’d have a show,” he said.
And he did. Circus Chickendog, named after the dog he taught the Frisbee tricks, has been around for nearly two decades and grown into a series of shows at kids’ parties and venues around Austin. Currently comprised of Peterson, three dogs and a parrot named Lauren McCaw, the family-friendly circus is getting into the holiday spirit and putting on its yearly production of “The Nutcracker” with a circus-tricks twist: “The Mutt-Cracker (Sweet!).”
The hour-long “The Mutt-Cracker,” running Thursday through Sunday, with additional performances from Jan. 3-5, will be a faithful adaptation of the original ballet, albeit circus-style. Peterson’s dog Mouse will jump rope. His dog Moose will do rhythmic gymnastics. The new Chickendog — who replaced the first when she retired after about 17 years enchanting audiences with her tricks — will surf. And Lauren McCaw, the parrot, will be on the ship that transports Clara and the Nutcracker prince to the Land of Sweets.
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