Tony Award-winning designer and director Tony Walton will helm a new touring circus production, OOPS! The Big Apple Circus Stage Show, scheduled to begin a 40-city tour in November 1999.
The acclaimed not-for-profit Big Apple Circus, which stages an annual one-ring show at Lincoln Center, will continue its traditional Manhattan circus show and subsequent tour, but the new stage show will meld circus and theatre to create a buoyant hybrid designed specifically for proscenium performing arts centers and traditional theatres.
The concept of the show, according to Big Apple spokesman Joel W. Dein, has a traveling circus company and a serious dramatic company being booked into the same theatre at the same time. "They keep battling through the show for possession of the stage," Dein told Playbill On-Line April 14. "Imagine the death scene of Romeo and Juliet interrupted by a juggler or a clown."
Circus artists, clowns, original music and live musicians will all be part of the mix, directed by Walton, who is best known as a set and costume designer on Broadway. Walton will also design costumes for OOPS!
Walton's Broadway design credits include recent stagings of 1776, A Funny Thing..., Company, She Loves Me, Guys and Dolls, Will Rogers Follies, Grand Hotel, Anything Goes and the original Chicago. His 19 films include work with Bob Fosse, Sidney Lumet, Mike Nichols, Ken Russell, Volcker Schlondorf and Francois Truffaut. His designs for opera and ballet have been seen throughout Europe and America. He directed and designed The Importance of Being Earnest and Major Barbara (Irish Rep) and directed Noel Coward's Song of Twilight (Bay Street Theatre).
The production is conceived by Big Apple Circus creative director Michael Christiansen based on an original concept by Julie Greenberg and Jeff Jenkins for the hit Chicago show, The Midnight Circus. Scenic design for OOPS! are by Dan Kuchar.
Among acts in the upcoming tour:
* The Ukrainian acrobatic act, the Kozakov Troupe.
* The comedy of Michael Lane Trautman.
* The American debut of the hand-balancing duet, Rasulov & Tabieva, of Moscow's Bolshoi Circus.
* Australian bicycle comedian and acrobat, Justin Case.
* Russian aerial strap act, Vladimir & Olga Kurziamov, seen in the Big Apple Circus' recent production, Happy On!
* Norman Barrett, star of English TV, circus and pantomime, with his trained parakeets.
* From Canada, the physical comedian, Annette Devick.
* American comedian, magician and musician Todd Robbins.
-- By Kenneth Jones