Saturday, November 8, 2014

Wednesday, November 05 & Thursday, November 06: Queens, NY

11/5/14- 7:30 p.m.

This afternoon Helen, her friend, Sam, and I went to see a matinee performance of the play, "Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-time".
I really enjoyed the show; the young man playing the autistic main character, Christopher, was fantastic, and I loved all the creative ways that the set and lighting effects were used to enhance the story.

Tonight our friends, the Klein family, were at the show. We first met Joey Klein four years ago when his mother reached out to me about Joey wanting to be a circus clown.
We've stayed in touch with Joey ever since, and every year the Kleins would come see us on Kelly Miller.
I was happy we were still able to continue that tradition this year on Vazquez.

After the show the Klein family was nice enough to take me out to dinner, where Joey told me about some of the circuses he's been able to guest clown with this year.

Back at the lot I quickly stopped by the tent for the party celebrating Quincy Azzario's 21st birthday. 
I was happy to see Glen Nicolodi, who was our production manager for a month at the beginning of the season. He is in town for a week to attend production meetings about next year's new tour.

11/6/14- 7:30 p.m.

Today I had lunch in Manhattan with Zac Whinnem. Zac was a Ringling Red Unit clown in 1993, and he currently works for a video game company that makes the popular online multiplayer game, "League of Legends".
We ate at an Irish pub right next to his workplace; the stew I had was the perfect antidote to the dreary, wet weather, and I really enjoyed hearing about Zac's experiences in Clown College and on the road.

Before heading back to the lot I visited a little British store in the Village called Myers of Keswick. I picked up some cookies called Hobknobs for Claire and Georgie since they have been giving me tea so much lately. 

Our friend, Pat Cashin, came to watch the show tonight with his sons, Shane and Jamie. Pat is one of the funniest and quick witted people we know, and we always look forward to his visits.
After the performance he had us laughing about such diverse topics as his proposed circus musical version of the story of Ebenezer Scrooge and the benefits you could reap as a well known Ringling clown during the 1940's.

After visiting with Pat and getting cleaned up, Ryan, Tatiana, Nico, and I took the subway to The Courtyard Ale House in Queens for Visan's surprise 30th birthday party.
Visan's girlfriend, Laura, had been planning the party for weeks, and she had the back room of the pub rented and decorated for the party.
I wish I could have been with the group to see Visan's face when he came in and everyone yelled, "Surprise!", but we got there afterwards.

I really enjoyed myself at the party. A whole cooked pig was delivered for food, there was a guitarist providing music in the main area of the pub, and I had a great time talking with my friends from the show.

In closing, here is a great review of our show that Ernie Albrecht wrote in the newest online issue of "Spectacle Magazine":

Serendipity in the Bronx: Circo Hermanos Vazquez

Turns Out to Be a Revelation.

As I have said before on all too rare occasions one of the greatest joys of my job is making unexpected discoveries. These surprises always seems to come when least expected, for instant what happened on a recent weekend when I had arranged to see Steve Copeland and Ryan Combs working their new gig with Circo Hermanos Vazquez. I have been following the careers of these two young men ever since I first met Ryan as a teenager with Circus Smirkus. So my expectations were entirely centered on seeing what the change in venue had meant to this pair of traditional, red-nosed American clowns.
They did not make their first entrance until several of the acts had already had their time in the ring. By the time they appeared I was already mightily impressed with the style and first rate artistry of what preceded them. The surprise was all the more powerful given that this show markets itself almost exclusively to an Hispanic population, and does so with great success.
As it turns out Circo Hermanos Vazquez is far more than a niche production. The lineup of features within its classy performance was one top line act after another, all of which were presented with great style, panache and beautiful costumes. The features were supported by a quintet of gorgeous showgirls, who made their way through some novel choreography, a live band and state of the art production values. I haven’t been this excited about a new show since the Circus Fans took in a brilliant production in Mexico.
This is a show that really belongs in the top echelon of American circuses. Insofar as skill level of each act, presented by an array of international stars it easily falls within the top three or four American circuses. And it’s performed in a ring under a big, handsome big top. How many circuses can match or top that?
The only element that sets it apart as a niche product is the talking clown Carmelo, whose repartee with the ringmaster is conducted entirely in Spanish with obviously hilarious results, judging by the enormous reaction of the almost exclusively Hispanic audience in the Bronx.
And then, of course, there is Ryan Combs and Steve Copeland. In these surroundings they have never looked better. They make three appearances, one of which is a major production number. The others are designed to help cover some rigging changes, but each has a great blow-off sight gag. Their major production is swift, slick and handsomely produced with some new props and scenic elements all of which helps put their current work far above what they were able to do on the mud shows from which they recently graduated, and the results have never been more satisfying to them and their audiences, who obviously love their slapstick comedy, which is in huge contrast to the talking clown who is wisely scheduled late in the show. Together the two styles of comedy make for an ideal situation in which the show has its comedy from the best of both worlds, . physical vs. verbal.
The roster of featured acts is another element that sets this show apart from others. The proceedings begin with Alexa Vazquez, the youngest female member of the family, and her hula hoop act, but the real excitement begins an act later when the Azzario Sisters take the ring. Their hand to hand, head to head balancing act is exquisitely choreographed, and they and their work are elegantly impressive, each maneuver completed with a perfect balance of skill and beauty.
High in the apex of the big top the aerial motorcycle act of Visan and Zheni Espana is visually arresting and topped off by a terrific finale in which both the cyclist and his partner at the other end of the rigging are simultaneously airborne turning somersaults and spinning wildly. Their huge rigging is struck and removed with amazing dispatch.
Another knock-out performance is contributed by foot juggler Klaudie Legronova Bremlov. Her work is extraordinarily exciting visually. Talk about hand to eye co-ordination. Bremlov adds eye to foot and hands in a routine so complex it almost impossible to follow. And once again presented, like the sisters, with appealing elegance.
A big liberty horse display with four black and four white Arabians was presented by Aldo Vazquez, the youngest of the Vazquez brothers. The same elegant style prevails here as well, an Intricate series of maneuvers accomplished with almost imperceptible cues and great dignity from the presenter, the very model of ideal composure as described by Antony Hippisley Coxe in A Seat at the Circus .
I have seen the three blond women aptly billed as Trio Bellisimo several times before meeting up with them here where they remain as amazing as ever. They build a series of balanced poses through contortion that tests one’s credulity. But they are indeed the real thing.
The flying act, billed simply as the Flying Heroes, dressed in the most understated, least flashy costumes I have ever seen on a flying act, make up for all that with the daring and precision of their flying and use of a complicated rigging that allows drops and catches on several levels. They also complete a triple most impressively.
There is also a frantically paced diabolo act offered by David Confal, a fairly ordinary dog act, disguised by its handsome costumes, presented by the Pompeyo Family and a Russian swing which is not one of my favorite acts anywhere. Add to all this a quintet of dancing girls decked out in spectacular feathers and day-glo costumes, and you have a spectacular production.

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