Thursday, June 1, 2017

Under The Big Top

Hey everyone, Steve Copeland here. Things are going well here in Baraboo. The cold, rainy weather from our opening weekend is gone, and the days are beautiful now: sunny, with temperatures in the low 70s. We’re enjoying it now before the real hot weather and humidity set in.

This week I wanted to talk about the Circus World big top show. This year it really is a BIG top!
For the past few summers Circus World was using a small, intimate Hanneford tent for the big top show, but this year we are working in a large tent owned by the Ramos Bros. Circus. 

It has four towers, a large backstage space, and it seats about one thousand people. The lighting equipment in this top is also more advanced than we were used to last year, so the show really looks like a million bucks.

Ryan and I actually got to work in this Ramos tent last September when we performed in the circus at the Utah State Fair (more on that in a later post). We were surprised when we heard it was coming to Circus World since it is way larger than anything they’ve used since the last time they had a three ring tent in the early 2000s. 

The Ramos family brought the tent all the way from California to Wisconsin; adding to the long distance, they also encountered some truck problems, so the tent didn’t get raised until a couple of days after it was supposed to go up.
This delayed our rehearsals, so it was a particularly hectic few days leading up to our opening day on May 19th.
Still, everyone pulled together and we made it happen, in true circus style!

We have quite a talented cast this season. The whole show is 70’s themed, and our energetic performance director/ringmaster, Dave SaLoutos, affectionately refers to it as “That 70’s Circus”.
In the opening number the whole cast is decked out in their groovy 70’s finest, and at one point we all line up and do the Hustle.

(Not to be confused with the hustle that happens before the show when Ryan and I are selling light up merchandise to the audience)

Next up is Jenny Vidbel, who will be returning to the Big Apple Circus this fall. She kicks off the opening number with Velma the Wonder Pig, who unrolls a carpet with her snout. Ryan and I wanted that job, but our boss, Scott O’Donnell, said the reward of one Oreo a show we were asking for to do the trick was not in the budget.
Jenny also performs her liberty horse act and a dog act featuring a miniature pony.

(All following photos courtesy of Johnny Trapino)

The aerial portion of the show is handled by Candice Storley, who is a former water skier for the Tommy Bartlett show out of the Wisconsin Dells. Candice performs on the lyra and chiffons, but when she was with Big Apple Circus a couple of years ago, she worked for Irene Espana and understudied in the Espana's Space Odyssey rocket act.

Candice’s boyfriend, Dean Manuel, presents the two biggest stars of the show (besides Ryan and myself), the elephants! 
Dean was performing with Carson & Barnes up until a week before our season started. While he is here, our friend from our Kelly Miller days, Armando Loyal, is filling in for him.


Jacob D’Eustachio from New York City does a very unusual juggling act where he gets dressed while keeping multiple objects in the air.
Besides working cruise ships and all other manner of shows, Jacob has also previously performed for Giovanni Zoppe’s circus.

Returning this year are Adilson and Gilda Fernandes, who we worked with on Kelly Miller our first year. 
Adilson does his nerve wracking chair stacking act, and the couple also present the Double Wheel of Destiny as a stand alone show in the afternoon.

Closing the show is Wesley Williams, who has an amazing unicycle act, culminating in a ride atop a 25 foot high unicycle! 

Oh, I forgot the clowns…….they’re a couple of pumpkin butts named Steve & Ryan who make two appearances in the show. 
For the first, they….I mean, we….attempt to wash the ringmaster’s disco suit, and only manage to get water everywhere but on our vinyl ring mat.

In our second spot we revive that perennial favorite, the pants chase, starring six year old Nico Combs as the runaway pants. The New York Times called his performance “hilarious, with just the right touch of pathos….and starch.”

As you can see, the show is jam packed with amazing acts, and us. It is an extremely prop heavy show, so much so that the entire cast has to act as the prop crew. When the performers are not in the ring, chances are good they are setting or striking props for the next act.
Ryan and I even roll out the bull tubs for the elephants, oh the humanity! 

The show is so prop heavy that we took out our original second routine, the carpenter gag, just because it was one more huge prop to set and mess to clean up.
Instead we offered to do the pants chase to help smooth out one of the more prop heavy transitions and keep the show moving along.
Yes, I know, such martyrs are we….

See you again next week for more tall tales and half truths! In the meantime, plan to come see all of the fun at Circus World in Baraboo!



Anonymous said...

Do you guys do meet and greet with the fans at intermission or after the show?

Eric said...

Could you please tell me if you do any interaction with the crowd before or after the shows?

Steve Copeland said...

Before the big top show Ryan and I are in the tent greeting people, and after the show the whole cast is at the tent's exit to meet and greet.
We also have an opportunity for meet and greet after Nothing But Nonsense.
Hope to see you soon!

Michelle Hunter said...

My 8yr old son and I were at your show on June 1 and totally loved it. It brought back memories of when I was a kid going to see Ringling Bros and Barnum and Bailey Circus when they visited Chicago. It was our first time at Circus World and my son is already asking when we are going back. His favorite part was Nothing but Nonsense. Thank you for making us laugh and for a truly entertaining day!

Steve Copeland said...

Hi Michelle,
Your son has excellent taste!
Thank you so much for coming to see us; we hope to see you again this summer!