The circus is back in town, but don’t tell the kids.
One of the surprise smash hits of 2009, The Salt Fire Circus, has a new show just in time for Halloween. “A Halloween Sideshow” is the local troupe’s follow-up to the Bare Bones Burlesque show that sold out four nights at the Durango Arts Center in May.
Many of the original cast members are back, and once again the show will feature songs, dancing and acrobatic stunts that rate somewhere between PG-13 and NC-17 on the audience scale of appropriate entertainment. For the grown-ups, it’s a can’t-miss show.
This time around, Minna Jain takes over the creative reins vacated by founding co-director Julie Hudak, who is moving out of town. Jain envisioned a circus-heavy program, and the addition of contact juggler Mark Stampfle, along with veteran Erin Stephens, is evidence of the shift.
“Sideshow” also has a more-centralized theme – the cards of the Tarot – than its predecessor, which also was Jain’s idea.
“We thought the Tarot was perfect. It has a lot of the archetypes you see around Halloween, like the Devil, the Trickster and some of those darker images,” Jain said. “But with this show, we get to bring them forward and really look at them closely.”
“Sideshow” consists of 13 acts: three are revamped versions from the May show, including Maya Sol Dansie’s “Toymaker,” Erika Golightly and co-director Chrissy Mosier’s lyra dance on hoops suspended from the ceiling and Stephens’ juggling act. The next 10 are all new, and follow a plotline as a mysterious Tarot card reader (Tami Graham) reveals the cards to ingénue Candace Jenkins and the cast acts them out.
It’s done in the same turn-of-the-century traveling circus style, with even more oddballs than before, although the cast is slightly smaller.
The Bare Bones Band also is smaller but just as good, with Jain and Colin Rooney handling all accompaniment with some help from Michael Rendon, who doubles as Ringmaster and the half-goat Pan in one scene.
Graham said there’s more of an emphasis on the circus side than pure burlesque, but the two aren’t mutually exclusive.
“There are still some super sexy burlesque pieces, but it’s not a full burlesque show; it’s a circus,” Graham said.
Kind of like Halloween in Durango. Come one, come all.