Friday, June 12, 2009

RYAN & STEVE & CASEY & NAT



We saw Kelly-Miller last night in Pemberton, NJ.

Ryan and Steve do an amazing job, it was great to see them in action. They are working hard, getting real laughs and connecting with the audience; classic circus clowning the way it should be done and rarely, if ever, is anymore.

Casey's cat act has become something that is incredible and virtually unknown anywhere in the American mudshow circus: an act that is truly worth seeing. Nat and her dogs bring a much needed charm, showmanship and charisma to a show that is sorely lacking this season in all three.

Because things are pretty pedestrian on "America's One Ring Wonder" this season.

The show lacks any of the zip and pizazz it had last season with some of the most inexcusably poor pacing on any circus that I've witnessed in a very, very long while. After Ryan & Steve do a quick come-in and get the crowd going, Casey's cat act starts the show off right only to be followed by an insanely long peanut pitch while the cage is dismantled.

I understand the economics of tent show performing as well as anyone but the time has come to retire the time honored burlesque show-era script of the Peterson Peanut Pitch in favor of something which accomplishes the same task with a greater emphasis on engaging and entertaining the audience throughout.

After the peanut pitch the show moves forward only in fits and starts, trudging forward with the gait of a retarded, arthritic spider monkey with a gunshot wound to the temple. The whole first half could stand to be tightened up considerably and ends with an aerial web display to the tune of "Lovely Luawana Lady" that would most politely be described as seriously egregious in both concept and execution and as good an argument as I've ever heard to support Hawaiian succession.

The second half starts off on the wrong foot with a very affordable flying act and rarely recovers it's footing, suffering from overlong stretches of thoroughly unnecessary "Kuliki Taka" on our way to an utterly underwhelming motorcycle on a wire and a completely WTF-and-out-of-left-field "Salute to Cowboys" finale.

Things weren't perfect last season but they were considerably better than this. Last season Kelly-Miller gave the impression of a small show that was on the road to becoming something more. This season, uh... not so much.

The problems aren't insurmountable and could be solved relatively quickly and easily but, this far into the season, any changes seem unlikely.

Afterwards Terry, Shane and I enjoyed the hospitality at America's Own, which we shared with Ryan, Steve, Dan Berkley, Lisa Soverino and Cricket and Casey's new groom, Radar, which unfortunately possessed a far greater entertainment value for all concerned than great stretches of the preceding 90 minutes.

Shane had a great time playing with Georgia and told us in the car that Genevieve, who we didn't get to meet, was beautiful.

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

PAT, I THINK YOU SHOULD GIVE THEM A BIT MORE CREDIT FOR WHAT THEY ARE DOING. I SAW THE SHOW IN EGG HARBOR CITY. I THINK THEY DID A GREAT JOB. BEEING A PROFESSIONAL CLOWN MY SELF AND WORKING IN CIRCUSES ALL OVER THE WORLD, I CAN SAY THAT IN TODAYS AMERICAN ECONOMY, THE KELLY MILLER SHOW AND ITS PERFORMERS ARE DOING A GREAT JOB WITH THE RESOURCES THAT THEY ARE GIVEN. I SAW THE SMALL SHOW YOU WERE ON AND I BELIVE THAT KELLY MILLER PRESENTED A MUCH BETTER PRODUCT. WE NEED TO SUPPORT ONE ANOTHER IN THIS BUSINESS IF WE ARE TO KEEP THE AMERICAN CIRCUS ALIVE. I APOLOGIZE IF I OFFEND YOU IN ANY WAY, BUT THAT IS WHAT MAKES THIS FORUM SO NICE TO READ AND PARTICIPATE IN. THANK YOU!

Pat Cashin said...

The show does have some very good performers, performers that would benefit greatly from some production tweaks that would cost the show nothing but enhance the performance greatly.

I'm guessing that you saw Circus Vidbel, which I was not on this year. I didn't even see the show.

I did advance for Vidbel. If you saw the Advance Clown show I can discuss that with you but I had nothing whatsoever to do with the actual circus performance.

You believe that Kelly-Miller presented a much better show, that probably explains why they are still on the road and Vidbel ended their season early.

The American circus industry does not benefit in anyway from Circus Report-style glowing reviews of every show on the road simply BECAUSE they are a circus on the road. No one benefits from that. The American circus industry desperately needs an infusion of pure and simple showmanship if it is to survive into the 21st century and jettison the elements needlessly tether it to the 19th.

Jay said...

At least they weren't pitching coloring books

Pat Cashin said...

Because nothing galls 'em in San Francisco like a coloring book pitch!

Anonymous said...

I would pay to hear the cliff vargas peanut pitch one more time by the late mr.gibbs..very funny stuff when caught off guard when you are waiting for the peterson peanut pitch.

BAMBOUK said...

You made me laugh with that one. I wish I were near somewhere on the route...and I think you meant 'secession'. Hawaiians succeed at all sorts of things though.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Pat. I caught the show in MD. and thought the show was very jumpy. I never saw an exchange of acts that didn't have some talking by the announcer to kill time while the ring was set. I did however feel the clowns were great. I also agree that the tiger act was exceptional. It is what made me go back a second day in Olney. I haven't seen what I thought was a good cage act in many years. This young mans act has a great mix of danger and touching with the animals very much along the lines of Baumman and Gebel. I thought the music for his act was awful. I also enjoyed the motorcycle on the wire. It seemed to get a great reaction from the crowd with the noise and height. And the elephants were very well presented. You are rite, today the circus is going to have to stop believing the fans who come and say "You are great, the show is great, you do such a good job getting down the road"

Dan McCallum said...

Well Pat, you sure know how to make friends in this business.

We just saw you burn two shows in one blog.

-Dan

Anonymous said...

I think Pat's observations are right on the mark. I would not have been as generious as Pat. The KM show simply is not that good. Somehow everyone thinks it is fine to give RBBB poor reviews but to give a small mudshow a poor review seems to be a cardinal sin. We all know when a show/act is not up to par and we do no one a favor by acting or writing as thought it was something better than it is.

Oh, and by-the-way, they were doing a coloring book pitch as well when I saw the show.

Anonymous said...

Sometimes the truth hurts, and like what was already said about defending small shows with false praise just because the fans don't want to seem to be supportive is wrong.

If the producers of these smaller shows can't afford a decent show or tent or safe seating or professional lights and sound and music, then maybe they should think of stop putting out a show that cheats the public and diminishes the industry.

At least the Kelly-Miller show has very good, funny clowns and a talented tiger trainer, by all reports.

-Chico

Anonymous said...

What I wouldn't give to go to a circus, ANY circus these days and see funny clowns!

What happened to clowning in Amercia? Isn't Ringling doing their clown school anymore? I saw the circus in NYC and there were big signs about Clown college all over the floor before the show. All I saw were clowns juggling and balancing feathers.

Casey McCoy Cainan said...

Ok...I will bite at the bait now.

I will use Mr. Chico's comment as fodder.


"If the producers of these smaller shows can't afford a decent show or tent or safe seating or professional lights and sound and music, then maybe they should think of stop putting out a show that cheats the public and diminishes the industry".

It is more then a decent show. Unless you are going to see BAC, or the SOUL show, you won't see anything even close in a tent. I agree with Pat on some of his concerns, and not so much on others (I like the motorcycle on the wire Pat) For the price of our ticket comparatively with BAC or Soul or RBBB or Soliel you are getting more then your moneys worth. I have heard enough feedback from towners here to know they all leave happy. We, and I include myself, are often very critical of a show, that is worth be critical of. It is good to hear that the shows has some flaws, or could and should be better. On the same token, this show is as good or better then most. I agree it is not as strong as last year, and I was hoping it would be. Lets all keep in mind though, before we use the "cheats the public, diminishes industry" line that even the two families working the fairgrounds building use the name CIRCUS as well, and it is relative to the last show they saw. No, I think the show is OK,,,not the best it has been,,,but still ok. Don't worry too much Chico, birthday clowns, whistle blowers, and Yucko have been diminishing that art form without a standard for quite some time, and people still give clowns a chance, maybe they will give us another as well.

Valérie Berta Torales said...

Couldn't agree more with Casey.
As an outsider to the art of the circus, an accidental circus Mom, I think the show has its obvious problems but the public over all seem to leave happy. I've brought many friends from all walks of life to the show over the past few months and most of them greatly enjoyed it, especially if they had kids in tow. There is magic in this circus for little big eyes, and that's priceless, no matter what the flaws.
Critical views are essential but they should be constructive and respectful or they're simply worthless. And most of all this show is still going strong despite the odds, drawing crowds each and every day in a dismal economy and in difficult times for entertainment of all kinds.
Hats off to all the folks who work hard to make that happen, rain or shine (well, mostly rain.)

Anonymous said...

First of all, I love these people who have strong opinions but not the guts to sign their name afterwards...second, I really love these people who like to knock everything they see on a show, which always makes me ask the question "What show are you on or have you been with?" Granted, I have been retired from performing for 10 years now and may be "out of the loop some", however, who are these people who feel free to judge people/performers? Where have they been and why have I never heard of most of them. Who died and made their opinions count? Most of the people who knock KM and CM and any other show would give their left arm to be on the show...it sounds to me like the problem on KM is that no one seems to know how to lay out a rundown for the performance, as opposed to the acts not being up to par...I agree with "Anonymous #1"...I think we should give KM a little more credit for what they do...if any of the other anonymous people think they could do better, then have at it....(I doubt most of them could make it a whole season)

Lauren Fairchild
Gibsonton, FL

Anonymous said...

I aggree With Casey on the bang for your buck aspect. And not for nuthin', Big apple & ringling ain't the strongest suit in the deck anymore. It does seem to be a case of poor running order on the KM show, as oppossed to to weak acts.

Very glad to hear that clowning is thriving on at least one show this season!

Chico

Dan McCallum said...

I agree with Lauren, and had basicly the same argument months ago on this site...if you want to state your strong opinion, have the backbone to post your name.

I did not get to see KM yet, but I am looking forward to it. I look forward to seeing just about any show that is out on the road, since their are not many left.

As far as what I have read of the performance, it sounds like they have a lot of good acts. I do not know of many mudshows out there with a cat act, elephants, a riding act, and a flying act.