We had just finished up a weekend performance at Rockome Gardens in Illinois, performing as the 18th Century Circus, when we heard some interesting rumblings. Seems that in June, at another weekend we were hired in for, they were doing "Firefall-A Salute to the Military" with an emphasis on WWII. Immediately, my mind went to work and came up with a WONDERFUL idea that I quickly shared with the rest of the troupe. After meeting with their approval and undying declaration of love and support for the Circus Master/Loving Husband/Father, I approached the site managers with my super-great idea. (Granted the 'approval and undying declaration of love and support from the troupe came in the form of Susan rolling her eyes, Cory deciding he needed to enroll in college that weekend and Ginny calling Child Protective Services. But after all of these years what I understood that they REALLY meant to say was-"Oh, YES, what a wonderful idea! Let's take 4 weeks, of which we're going to be gone 3 of them, and put together a totally new show with new music, 3 major illusion changes we have never done, 14 new costumes that haven't even been considered and say "When can we set up???").
At least Rockome gardens liked the idea! And we set to work on a new show based upon a 1942 USO theme. Knowing Cory would be gone that weekend (Child Protective Services was out to lunch so Ginny was stuck with us and Susan's eyes are going to become stuck in the upward rolled position soon, anyway) to work we went.
Because of the time we were going to be representing, we were able to add some of the 20th century 'classics' of magic, such as escapes, mentalism, a 5-costume DOUBLE 'quick-change', hoop dancing and others. Strung together with a short talk on the history of the USO shows and performers, some jokes, carnival arts all the while the music of Glen Miller, the Andrew Sisters and Spike Jones and others played in our area! And if you have NEVER heard a recording of Spike Jones' classic "Der Fuhrer's Face", go find it!
And if you think that Rockolm Gardens doesn't go all out, they had (in addition to our USO show) over 150 WWII reenactors both American and German, half-tracks, jeeps, even an American Sherman Tank and a German Tiger Tank! (The Tiger is still sitting there. Something about the driver not hearing the owners yelling "Don't drive there, you moron! That's a freakin' SWAMP!")
A Good Looking Man
Another Good Looking Man
A trunk escape with a "willing" helper.
When most people think of a magician, who do they think of? Houdini, right!
WRONG! They should think about ME!!!! It's all about ME!!!!
And to prove my point, an excellent example of prustitidgita...prettidiggitati...prassstididgerta...MAGIC was given by the great ME (see above statement) with the help of some audience members. With their help, we re-created Houdini's famous escapes-shackles and a wooden crate. Or, we were, until Penelope reminded me that our insurance didn't cover that, so we had Zillah do it, instead. But, we DID use our audience in other things-rings, rope, sponges and scarf, to name a few.
So now, I ask you again...When most people think of a magician, they think of me, right? WHADDYA MEAN "HOUDINI"! The guy's been dead for HOW many years? And yet you STILL say "Houdini"???
WRONG! It's ME!!!! It's all about ME!!!!
The rings and audience help.
And what show would be complete without beautiful
assistants? And where else to get beautiful assistants on the budget
that I am allowed? Where else, but my own family, Susan and Virginia aka Penelope and Zillah. (Negotiations
are simple. "You no work, you no eat".) These were two of the 12
costumes that Susan had to create a week and a half before the first
show. These outfits were modeled after a movie poster of the 1936 MGM
film, Born to Dance.
The B-Show Girls
Preparing to contort
The art of the Cups-and-Balls
Walking a ladder of swords
A classic of Magic, the "Hindu Sword Basket" ended our "B" show. While Zillah proved that Penelope had indeed 'left the Basket' Eric performed a rendition of "I'll Be Seeing You".
Penelope, feeling that Zillah needs to watch where she puts "those boats she calls FEET" and that Eric is taking WAAAAAY too long on the cadenza, had "notes following the show"!
Penelope getting into the basket
Just where IS Penelope?
I'll be seeing you in all the old familiar places
Tired troupe members!
Tired troupe member!
One of the new illusions we added was a double 'quick-change'.