Tuesday, March 07, 2006


My favorite pastime is watching talented people do their thing. Movies, theater, singers, musicians, dancers, comedians, athletes, artists, poets make me happy. People being skillful, creative and expressive with their minds and bodies, rejuvenates, recreates and relaxes me.

Saturday I went to the circus. Amazing, because I had a bad circus experience and swore off them. I like the new type of circus acts with the spinning spirals and all that. But, I like the pure circus arts of juggling, acrobatics, dare devil acts, contortionists, clowns and especially balancing acts. I am like a kid with balancing acts. How do they do it? It’s not possible yet there it is. That’s the fun of the circus for me.

I like animal acts too. Horses are my favorite animal in the world. (It took my mother years to convince me that I could not have a horse in our south Michigan Avenue apartment.) So, people doing tricks on galloping horses, knock me out. I like tigers, just to look at them and I like dogs and seals doing things they shouldn’t be doing. I went to the circus with my family a year ago. It was the UniverSoul Circus which is an African American owned and predominantly performed circus. Wonderful thrilling, death defying high wire performances, horses, dogs, clowns the works all to R & B and rap music. Phenomenal. Then came the lion tamer. Well, ladies and gentlemen these beautiful lions and tigers were obviously tamed out of their skulls, higher than Richard Prior on fire. Made me sick. This guy is strutting around using his whip and chair while these glazed eyed felines were swiping at the stars whirling around their heads. I had some words with the guy standing by the big top door thanking us for coming, and I sent some emails the next day. I know they are being investigated. It’s a shame.

My nephew Nolen and his wife Aisha and their 2 year old son Nolen Jr. (NJ) and my niece’s 7 year old son Marcellus and Monica and I went to the circus Saturday because I know three of the participants. WE LOVED IT!.
This show is an innovative idea combining circus art, jazz/soul music, theater and a chanteuse, STILLETOS, CIRCUS AND SOUL at the North Light Theater in Skokie, IL.
The band Liquid Soul led by saxophonist Mars Williams, is definitely a dance band with smokin’ horns and funky guitar and a hip-hop beatboxer.
The Midnight Circus is a company of amazing acrobats that incorporates theater into their performances. I know Mitchell Fain who is a talented circus artist, actor and director. He plays the “theater guy” in Stilettos…
The “Diva” is played by actress/singer Alexandra Billings who is the most talented person on earth. This is not my opinion, it is fact. She is accompanied by amazing pianist Russ Long.
So Liquid Soul + Midnight Circus + Alex Billings = Big Time Fun Yall!

The fun starts with believe it or not, the ushers. These old gents are so funny. They make jokes and tease the kids. By the time you get to your seat you’re ready. I must admit I was a bit anxious because I really wanted to see Mitchell do his circus thing and I hadn’t seen Alex do anything since 1922 or so it seemed. And here was Alex and Russ in the circus. Whoda thunk it. It’s going to be bizarre.

The opening scene is spectacular people, be on time don’t miss it. They close the doors for the first scene because people are coming down into the aisles from the ceiling. Yep. Acrobats are running everywhere doing penguin like belly flops and Alex looking quite the gorgeous diva, trying desperately to get out of their way. Hilarious!
Alex sang! WooHoo! She sang ‘Come Rain or Come Shine” accompanied by the beatbox guy. Damn, that was sharp!
Alex sat on a stool by the piano and made us laugh. She came on and off stage interacting with the acrobats while the story unfolded and made us laugh. The band provided funky sound effects that went along with the circus acts and stage action. And, they even kept little NJ boogying in his seat.

The acrobats were brilliant and unbelievable. There was Wire Girl, Pretzel girl, Aerial Hoop Girl, Trapeze Punk, the clown and awesome jugglers. German Girl, Aisha’s favorite, was funny, intense and STRONG baby. The guys with me loved Karate Guy who looked like he stepped out of a video game. Marcellus got his autograph. Monica liked the Pretzel Girl doing her thing to Russ Long’s Moonlight Sonata. We all loved Lola the performing dog who seemed to know what she was doing, no tricks.

I loved the storyline and self deprecating humor of the circus which can usually be so spotlight awwwing and staunchy. Not the Midnight Circus! And the Diva, flouncing around in her superior self importance, having to introduce the DOG, at the request of The DOG! PRICELESS!

The finale was as exciting as the opening. Alexandra actually wrapped her arms in two sheaths of cloth and flew above the stage. She was graceful and beautiful. Wow!
It was breathtaking.
At the very end all the kids were invited down to the floor to dance. My three guys went down and had a ball!
This show is a feast of color, sound, music, movement and beauty. I'm going again.
Cycles on the wire, human pyramids, Liberace, hoops of fire and Alex flying! That’s a hell of a circus, baby!


Maria said...

Beautiful...you brought back the magic of the circus for me...it's been many years but I feel that push to go again. Thank you.......

Jackie said...

Wow Maria I wish you could have seen it too. I got to talk to some of the circus performers. These are not only skilled performers but very nice people too. That is always a plus.