LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, BOYS AND GIRLS... welcome to the big top blog of Douglas McPherson, author of CIRCUS MANIA, the book described by Gerry Cottle as "A passionate and up-to-date look at the circus and its people."

Monday, 20 December 2010

Circus meets Pantomime!


Valerie Murzak
in a publicity shot from
Cirque de Glace
- Read the behind-the-scenes
story of that show
and many other circuses
in Circus Mania
What could be more fun this Christmas - a pantomime or a trip to the circus? At the Norwich Theatre Royal there’s no need to choose between the two, thanks to an inspired decision to set this year‘s Jack and The Beanstalk in a travelling circus.

Yep, Jack (played by Hollyoaks heartthrob Stephen Uppal) has been transformed into the star of the Trott Family Circus, which even boasts a pantomime elephant instead of the traditional pantomime horse.

With scenes set inside the big top and during the circus parade through the panto village of Norwichvale, as well as scenes around the Trott Family caravans, the circus costumes and scenery give the production a huge infusion of life and colour.

Genuine circus thrills come from rising star Valerie Murzak (one of the stars of my book Circus Mania) who gets some of the biggest audience reactions of the night for her glamorous and dramatic performance on aerial silk - as well as standing on her hands and spinning a hula-hoop around her ankle.

Not to be out-done, writer and director Richard Gauntlett, who plays the Dame, turns in a slick plate-spinning routine, while a stilt-walker and dancing clowns add to the carnival atmosphere of the crowd scenes.

Other visual treats come in the portrayal of the Giant, represented by an enormous foot and hand descending from the proscenium arch.
Comic Andre Vincent gets the biggest laugh of the night when the giant is slain. “Give him a big hand!” says Vincent, as an enormous forearm flops from the wings and flattens the funny man.

This is Gauntlett’s tenth panto at Norwich and, thanks to a slick, fast-paced show - plus the magic of the circus - it’s undoubtedly his best yet.

Jack & The Beanstalk runs until Jan 16. Box Office: 01603 630000.
If you want to learn more about aerial silk star Valerie Murzak and her anglo-Russian circus family, meanwhile, look no further than Circus Mania - The Ultimate Book For Anyone Who Dreamed Of Running Away With The Circus. Just click up the button above right for speedy delivery from those nice people at Amazon.

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

You know your life’s a circus when your first Christmas card of the year comes from Gerry Cottle, but that was the case here at Circus Mania towers!

It’s a shame I live on the other side of our snowbound country as Gerry’s Christmas show at his famous Wooky Hole Caves sounds like the perfect alternative to panto.
50 Acts In 50 Minutes does exactly what it says and stars the kids of Gerry’s Wooky Circus School alongside circus pros Bippo the clown and his acrobatic fiance Lucy Ladbrooke. If you’re in the west of England hurry along to see them before the final show on Jan 3.

Here in East Anglia, meanwhile, there’s a panto theme - Oh yes there is! - to the Christmas show at the Great Yarmouth Hippodrome, so don’t miss your fix of circus thrills and spills, between Dec 11 and Jan 3.

Finally, are you stuck for Christmas presents? Why not treat your friends to a copy of Circus Mania - The Ultimate Book For Anyone Who Dreamed Of Running Away With The Circus, which the Mail on Sunday called “A brilliant account of a vanishing art form”?

Click the link to Amazon above right for speedy delivery complete with gift-wrapping. Or why not buy a copy for ALL your friends? Buy six or more and you’ll qualify for wholesale prices. Just call Michael O’Connell at Peter Owen Publishers on 020 8350 1775.