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A CurtainUp Review


Alesya Goulevich
Alesya Goulevich doing her fabulous "Hu la la."
Barry Lubin  as Grandma
Barry Lubin as Grandma
It's been a few years since I've seen the Big Apple Circus during its annual visit to Lincoln Center's Damrosh Park. I'm happy to report that this twenty-five-year young one-ring circus dedicated to integrating traditional theater elements (original music, lighting, choreography, etc.) with traditional human and humane animal circus acts, is as much fun as ever. With regular theater seats instead of bleacher benches, it's also more comfortable to watch.

The latest extravaganza is aptly entitled Carnevale! brings together such company favorites as Barry Lubin in his droll persona of "Grandma" with talented performers from Cuba, Russia, the Ukraine, Columbia, Latvia, Belarus and Denmark. Their costumes are spectacularly colorful. In keeping with the international flavor, the original music played by Rob Slowik and the Big Apple Circus Band, always important in this circus, is a spicy mix of reggae, calypso, soca, samba, jazz, zydeco, Afro-Cuban and classical.

While you won't find elephants and tigers under this tent, Carnevale! features some appealing four-legged performers: Horses showing off their dancer's grace under the gentle guidance of Katja Schumann, with Hans-Ludwig Suppmeir and Michelle Youens encouraging a group of camels to strut their stuff. My ten-year-old companion Jack and I were particularly enamored of a group of giant and miniature black Schnauzers.

The acrobatic and high wire artists truly demonstrated how discipline and daring can push the envelope of human skill to its limits. A relatively ordinary toy like the hula hoop which many of the kids in the audience have undoubtedly learned to manipulate, proves to be extraordinary when Alesya Goulevich is doing the hoo la la-ing. Jack and I tried to count the ever increasing number of hoops she juggled but lost count.

Besides Barry "Grandma" Lubin's antics, a decidedly low-tech audience participation interlude during which a ball was repeatedly sent flying into the audience and sent back by those lucky enough to be on the catch and pitchback end. Naturally, Jack, whose neighborhood soccer team played a winning game just before he met me in Damrosh Park, was a bit disappointed not to be one of the lucky pitchers.

Be prepared to succumb to the popcorn and other merchandise being hawked up and down the aisles and at various booths in the area outside the performance space. But if that leaves your wallet a little thinner than anticipated, remember that the sale of merchandise (as well as the tickets) all support this non-profit organization's many worthy enterprises.

For more pictures and details about performances, check out the Big Apple web site at

Conceived by Michael Christensen, Raffaele De Ritis
Artistic Direction by Paul Binder
Directd by Raffaele De Ritis
Composers: Michael Valenti, Scott Sena Arturo O'Farrill
Director of Clowning: Barry Lubin
Musical Director: Rob Slowik
Choreographer: Jonathan Stuart Cerullo
Cast: Barry Lubin (Grandma-USA), Los Aregos (Cuba), Audrey Markov (Russia), Vallery (Ukraine, The Carrillos (Columbiaa & Latvia), Alesya Goulevich (Belarus, Aniskin Troupe (Russia, Katja Schumann (Denmark).
Also from the Big Apple Circus Company: Max Binder (USA), Regina Dobrovitskaya (Russia), Andrey Mantchev (Bulgaria), Virgile Peyramaure (France), Christian Atayde Stoinev (USA), Hans-Ludwig Suppmeier (Germany), Valdis Yanovskis (Russia), and Michelle Youens (USA)
Scenic Design: Dan Kuchar
Costume Design: Mirena Rada
Lighting Design: Paul George
Sound Design: Darby Smotherman
Running time: 2 hours and 20 minutes, includes one intermission
Big Top at Damrosch Park in Lincoln Center (Broadway at 63rd Street), 212/ 721-6500, Ticketmaster 212/ 307-4100
10/16/03 through 1/11/04
Schedule and ticket details:
Reviewed by Elyse Sommer based on October 30th press performance

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