CIRCUS ART

Extra personality: Comic juggler and eccentric clown Will Shaw (shown twice) will perform at the Waterfront Museum and Showboat Barge on June 12 as part of "CircuSundays."
William D. King

"CircuSundays" are back. After
a four-year hiatus, the old dock at Conover Street in Red Hook
has been rebuilt and the Showboat Barge has been refitted with
a new bottom sheathed in plastic, re-caulked and re-fastened.




It was a job that David Sharps, president of The Waterfront Museum
and Showboat Barge, says cost half a million dollars – a quarter
million for the boat and a quarter million for the dock. Now
the Showboat is ready to welcome visitors of all ages into its
cabin to chuckle and gasp on Sundays in June.



The circus acts are booked and introduced by artistic director
and mistress of ceremonies Karen E. Gersch, a world-renowned
circus performer and artist whose paintings and drawings, "Sequins
to Sawdust: Art from Circus Life," are on display on the
walls of the Showboat. A reception for Gersch, who is a graduate
of Pratt Institute and founding member of the Big Apple Circus,
will be held on the barge June 11.



Gersch’s "CircuSundays" line-up features a variety
of juggling, clown and magic acts, as well as feats of daring
that will thrill young and old.



"There will be many old favorites that I had to bring back
because they were so over-the-top," Gersch told GO Brooklyn.
Returning artists include the aerial dexterity of Fran Sperling
on trapeze on June 26; Slack the Clown Prince of Slack Wire (a.k.a.
Dikki Ellis), also on June 26; the magic of Torkova on June 12;
and Will Shaw, whom Gersch calls "a cabaret performer and
an eccentric juggler," also on June 12



There will also be "an exciting new roster of performers,"
Gersch said.



Todd Robbins, a 2004 hit with his off-Broadway show "Carnival
Knowledge," will perform magic and display his quirky sense
of humor on June 19. And Gersch says he’ll "do a lot of
schmoozing" too.



Anthony Bryant, who performs on June 26, is a hip-hop rhythmic
gymnast and baton twirler whom Gersch believes is destined to
be a star in the world of dance.



The Singer & Saw act, on June 19, pairs a lyric soprano with
a clown who plays the carpenter’s saw.



On June 26, Captain Posh and Meatloaf the Magnificent will both
clown around. "Captain Posh is a nautical clown who performs
a game show with a wheel of fortune and audience participation,"
said Gersch. "While Meatloaf the Magnificent is a fabulous
juggler and a very funny clown who will keep the audience on
the edge of their seats with his shenanigans."



On June 12, Gersch invites the audience to sing along with The
Mighty Shakes, who perform on violin, guitar, penny whistle and
mandolin and listen to the folktales of Julie Pasqual. On June
26, they can challenge their minds with the Quizmaster and his
arsenal of non-vital information.



She encourages families to come early and enjoy the free live
music in the garden on the pier, presented by Ilie Radu, who
comes all the way from Moldavia, Russia to play the accordion,
harmonica and Mondavian flute. Pre-show entertainment also includes
circus acts such as Zazu the Stilt Dancer, comedians and maritime
clowns.



And Gersch certainly hopes everyone will enjoy her paintings
and drawings, which chronicle both her travels with one- and
three-ring circuses and theater festivals in the United States
and abroad. The exhibit also features portraits of some performers
from previous "CircuSundays." Many of the works are
accompanied by a brief narrative or description explaining their
origin or inspiration.



The home of "CircuSundays," and the Waterfront Museum,
is The Showboat Barge. Originally called Lehigh Valley Barge
No. 79, it was built in 1914 and may be the only surviving wooden
railroad barge of the Lighterage Era (1860-1960) when tugs and
barges moved cargo between outlying rail lines and the New York
City waterfront. It was bought by Sharps in 1985 for $500.



For anyone who has ever imagined running away with the circus,
or stowing away on a ship, "CircuSundays" are the next
best thing.

 

"CircuSundays" are June 12,
19 and 26 with shows at noon, 2:30 and 5 pm. Tickets are available
by reservation for $12, $6 children under 12, and at the door
when available for $15 adults, $8 children under 12. The Waterfront
Museum and Showboat Barge is located at the foot of Conover Street
in Red Hook. For reservations and more information, call (877)
238-5596 or visit these Web sites: www.smarttix.com and www.waterfrontmuseum.org.



"Sequins to Sawdust: Art from Circus Life," an exhibit
of paintings and drawings by Karen E. Gersch, will be on display
through June 29 on the barge. A reception, with refreshments
and entertainment, will be held for Gersch on June 11, from 4
pm to 7 pm.


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