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April 16, 2021

TWO CIRQUES IN ONE CITY by Merle Exit “The circus is in town. The circus is in town.” No, I’m not repeating myself. Two circuses are in New York City. We have the Big Apple Circus at Cunningham Park in Queens and Cirque du Soleil at Randall’s Island. I make it a point not to miss a Cirque show. Corteo is the title of this one that centers on a Dead Clown whose fantastic funeral is being honored. But, could it all be a dream? “A former member of the troupe surrounding him, he dons his costume to perform onstage one last time.” Characters that join him include: The Loyal Whistler – the ringmaster; The White Clown, who admires only the stars; The Clowness, the grande dame of the stage; The Little Clown, a diminutive clown who’s in love with the Clowness; and The Giant Clown, an amateur opera singer and who the dead clown was closest to. As in all Cirque du Soleil performances you can expect some of the most “showy” and daring acts. Here is a run down on many of the acts. Adagio Duet – a masterful, tender pas de deux performed by two little people using a vertical ring that it set into a pivoting platform. Personally, I wasn’t as impressed as with other acts, but I think that the audience kept applauding just because they were “little people”. Bouncing Beds, on the other hand had six artists jumping on beds that were moving on rotating platforms. I loved Chandeliers where four women, the Dead Clown’s former loves, come together in a dreamlike joy performing aerial acrobatics on three giant chandeliers that spin and sway above his bed. Cyr Wheel had four artists performing group and solo figures on the wheel and there was the Juggling, a fast-moving feat that blended juggling with acrobatics, defying the law of gravity. Two especially funny acts. To the sound of bagpipes, a patch of green light appears that suggests a golf course scene as the Giant walks on stage intent on giving it his best shot. The golf ball is the head of one of the clowns. The other one called, “A Not-So-Serious Act” had a trio of flexible jugglers performing some great maneuvers with a combination of cubes and balls before being surprised by a torrential downpour of chickens. Then there was this guy who amazed us with his unnerving balance and finesse on various ladders of which his goal was to reach the top to touch an angel. Oh, yes, there were lots of angels in the show. One act entitled “Teeterboard” had two groups of artists that lent rhythm and vocals to three acrobats on a teeterboard. This was one of the best combining the speed of the artists with the music of the Corteo. Corteo divides the orchestration into four groups of which two are on each side of the stage. The music, as always is worthy of purchasing a CD. Both the vocalists and the musicians add great dynamics the only non-animal circus that’s worth the price of a Broadway ticket. Be sure to take in the enjoyment of the pre-show. You never know if you’re going to be squirted with water or popcorn. Meanwhile, back on Broadway, I dined at Hard Rock Café, of which I would rename Hard Rock Salt Café. As all of the these themed restaurants, the ambiance is wonderful with all of the Rock ‘n’ Roll memorabilia surrounding the walls of the eatery. Depending upon the night you may or may not catch some live performance. The menu is Americana, with burgers, steaks, etc. and might have been a lot more tasty is everything weren’t so salty. Perhaps they have teamed up with Wichita’s Salt Museum. Those with high blood pressure best make it an announcement prior to ordering. Here, at Queens Theatre In The Park, you can still catch a sort of Broadway performance. It’s Neil Berg’s Broadway Song & Dance composed of Broadway performers such as: William Michaels (Beauty and the Beast and Man of La Mancha); Craig Schulman (Les Miz); Danny Zolli (Jesus Christ Superstar) and Rita Harvey (Phantom of the Opera). Neil Berg, who is married to Rita Harvey, is the composer/lyricist of the Off-Broadway musical The Prince and the Pauper and the composer of a new Broadway musical of Grumpy Old Men. I will be interviewing Neil on this Thursday’s Real Talk With Jim Lisa. Don’t forget to go to my website of www.merleswhirls.com for free tickets to Jacques Brel Is Alive And Well And Living In Paris.

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