February, 4: Brownsville, TX
Rehearsals for the 75th Anniversary edition of the Kelly Miller Circus are underway!
The animal acts went into the tent early in the morning, and different acts were practicing on and off until after 9:00 p.m.
Nick Weber, a former Kelly Miller clown as well as owner of the Royal Lichtenstein Circus, is around in Brownsville as a creative consultant (please forgive me if I got that title wrong).
Ryan and I were able to get a head start on our first rehearsal period since the elephants finished early. We used the time to set the props for our main act in the ring so we could better figure out our blocking.
At 11:00 a.m. Marshall and Mike came in to help us with our music. This year we will have Marshall running our music, Mike drumming, and Pete running our sound effects.
It was neat hearing the drums during our acts; we've rarely had drum accompaniment because the drummer is usually running our sound effects.
During our two hour practice slot we ran all three of our numbers in the show, and we even finished fifteen minutes early.
It was a very productive rehearsal; we're the furthest along that we've been on the first day in the five years we've been with the show. Yay team!
After cleaning up (it was nice and hot in the tent, leaving us nice and sweaty) I went for a walk down to the mall to unwind and get out of the rehearsal mind frame.
Later in the afternoon we had a cast rehearsal for finale. There were a few rough spots and some confusion to start off with, but after running the number a few times, those problem areas were sorted out and/or re-chereographed.
After a brief break Ryan and I went back in for one more hour long practice session. We ran our gag that will happen while the tiger cage is being taken down, and we ran our main gag.
The circus bought a miniature car for us, and we are using it for the gag's entrance.
Here we are testing it out when it arrived late last season.
Since then Danny, Christian, and Radar have done a TON of work on it, and it looks beautiful.
The car has a gas engine, and it is fast. Very fast. You can't control the speed once you get going; you just have to hold on for dear life and steer.
The only place Ryan and I had driven it before tonight was around the winter quarters in Hugo. Let me tell you, a circus ring is a lot smaller than that.....
When we came hurtling into the ring for the first time, Ryan nearly crashed into the ring curb. He had to keep turning sharply to avoid a collision, and then when it came time to stop, he couldn't pull the proper lever because my leg was in the way (as you can see in the above picture, the fit in the truck is snug).
Since he had so little time to react due to the speed we were going, Ryan didn't think to tell me to move my leg. He just tried to move the lever anyway.
Meanwhile we were out of the ring and heading straight for the bandstand. Ryan jerked the wheel so that we were then on a collision course with the end of a seat wagon. One more turn of the wheel and we were headed towards a side pole at the back of the tent.
Both of us went into panic mode, and all rational thought left our brains. I stuck one leg out the side of the truck and tried to stop it a la the Flintstones. Unfortunately that only works in the cartoons, because we rammed right into the pole.
Luckily about that time Christian had grabbed the bed on the back of the truck and was able to keep us in one place. Ryan also suddenly remembered that there was a hand brake on his side of the car.
Man oh man, I wish someone had gotten that on video!
We tried our grand entrance two more times, and each time was progressively less terrifying.
Once we had a handle on it, we ran the gag all the way through with all the elements, including the Rosales child we are using in the blow off (who did perfectly by the way).
I was very happy with our first day of rehearsals....and with us cheating death and dismemberment. (For all concerned, the truck is fine. It has a nice sturdy bumper on it!)
Me, Ryan, and the Rosales family have to get up early early for a UNIVISION television PR in McAllen, so I suppose I better get some sleep.
See you tomorrow night!