Monday, June 22, 2009


I had the chance to peruse some of the other circus blogs tonight and thought that it was worth clarifying some things about my earlier Kelly-Miller post before they get misquoted or misconstrued any further...

"You said Kelly-Miller wasn't a good show."

No, I didn't say it wasn't good. I said it parts of it weren't very good and that it could very easily be much better. Kelly-Miller is one of the better traditional circuses on the road today. Is it a good value for the money? Yes, yes it is. Could it be a better value for the money? Absolutely. There is much more right with the show than wrong and it is maddening that what little needs to be fixed hasn't been by this point in the season.
Small elements compromise the greater whole and leave the show grounded where it could, and should, soar. It is a serviceable show where it could easily become an extraordinary show.

"You only went there to go see your friends' acts."

Yes. Yes I did. I expected to enjoy those and I did enjoy them very much. The rest of the audience did too.

"None of the other acts were worth mentioning?"

Fridman Torales' rola-bola is also a stand out. I thought that the show would have been greatly improved if he'd done the aerial number that he'd done last season as well.

"So you won't mention the acts that you didn't like by name?"


"And you won't be specific about what you didn't enjoy about them?"


"So you didn't like any act that you didn't mention by name?"

I didn't say that. I said that I saw my friends and that I really enjoyed their acts. I also mentioned that I think are doing an outstanding job.

"This is just sour grapes. You have some axe to grind."

No, no I don't. I have several friends on the performing side and some on the office side on the show. That doesn't mean that I have to enjoy the show.

To be very honest I've found every show that I've seen this year to be a disappointment, but this one in particular because it is so close to being really good. Again, there is more right than wrong on Kelly-Miller.

Above all, it is especially great to see a show where classic American-style clowning is done and done very well. Steve and Ryan are doing something really incredible and you should absolutely go and see them if they are anywhere near your area.

"If you're so smart, why aren't YOU on a show right now?"

I am not available this year. I need to be home with my family. I will not be available next year either. In fact, depending on what happens when my son is born in October, I expect that it won't be feasible for me to be away and working in traditional circus much at all anymore.

"If you're so smart, what do you think Kelly-Miller needs?"

Off the top of my head I'd say that they need to seriously rethink and retool their approach to pacing and presentation and to abandon unnecessary production elements that bring a good show down to the level of amateurishness.

Kelly-Miller needs a director. Someone to tighten up some of the weaker acts and help push the stronger ones above the level of simply meeting our expectations and into the level of exceeding them and delivering something truly extraordinary.

"So, what you are saying is that they need to hire YOU?"

No. I am not saying that at all. I am NOT a director. I am saying that they should find one and hire him or her.

"What, specifically, could be done to improve the show?"

Hire a director. They can tell you far better than I ever could.

But I would suggest the following for free...
Kelly-Miller has a performer on the show who plays guitar and sings pretty well. The show also travels with a live drummer.

A live singer, accompanying himself live, in the center of the ring is a far stronger anchor for an aerial web display (and would be a lot more interesting for the audience) than listening to a recording of a number from a movie that the they have never seen or even heard of.
And a country/western number as a close for the first act would help make a lot more sense of the "Salute to Cowboys" finale that isn't supported by any other part of the performance.
Is that performer even interested in singing in the show? I have no idea but K-M should explore and exploit as much of the talent on hand as possible.

Or does no one else see the potential in writing and recording an original song that could be sold as a CD single at the concession stand?

I bet Mr. North's uncle would have.

"You expect an awful lot from a one ring mud show from Hugo."

Yes. I do.

"Why do you hold Kelly-Miller to a different standard than other shows?"

Because, unlike most shows, I know that Kelly-Miller is fully capable of doing something amazing. They have a great staff and have some really great acts over there. The elements are all in place and just waiting to explode. I saw it last year, I see it this year. There isn't a show on the road with more raw potential than Kelly-Miller.

I hope this helps clarify, without the snarkiness of the original post, my feelings and I apologize for the ruffled feathers of anyone except Doug Terranova.


Anonymous said...

Pat, your observations about the KM show are right on. That show could be so much better! It takes you up just to let you down. I could go on. I also think that your readers and other blogs need to get over this idea that discourages objective critque and evaluation of acts and shows. We do no one, performers or the circus going public, any good by white-washing a show or act that could be and needs to be more. As American circuses continue to dwindle in number we need to look at what will make them better and stronger not fall for believing our own publicity. Keep up the good work!

BAMBOUK said...

For what it's worth, I completely agree and support someone's right to offer a critique of a show, especially when you know that the critic is intending to offer ways for the show to be IN THEIR OWN OPINION a better show.

My aesthetic values are not shared by all, but there is certainly a value in listening to my opinion...on occasion.

Pat, you are welcome to let me know what you think of my show at any time, and I reserve the right to tell you what I think of yours as well. In the spirit, of course, of helping eachother grow as artists.

Best wishes,


Casey McCoy Cainan said...

I would agree with alot of that.

Mark Lavender said...

Inpire, encourage, exhort, even goad when needed, constructive criticism...
are positive tools for building better shows and performances.

Keep at it, Pat!

To them who sulk, whine, and shrink back from pushing themselves to improve... lead, follow, or get out of the way.

Frank Ferrante said...

Very well put, Pat - the fact is we, former or present show people see shows differently than the circus going public. I also feel that performers who know us, or know our background, respect those observations more than they would a newspaper reviewer. It would be interesting to get you and the KM management team in a locked room for an hour or so. Take care, ~frank