After a run of six shows in three days (phew!) in Waltham, Massachusetts, it was time for our group of 26 troupers and one trouper-in-training and 40 staff to head up to Kennebunkport, Maine.
Soon enough we pulled in to the Rockin’ Horse Stables in Kennebunkport. As we sat down to lunch under the familiar blue and white tent at our green picnic tables, I saw some horses running in the field behind us! A few hours later, a successful set-up was celebrated with a trip to Ben and Jerry’s… not a bad way to end the day! As we arrived back on site later that evening, I saw the sun setting over the Big Top, and realized I could never get tired of that view.
Kennebunkport was another great site, with most of our shows selling out. Tuesday was a hot and sunny day… the perfect kind of weather to cool off with some ice-cold lemonade from the concessions tent! The lemonade is delicious, but making it even better is the fact that it comes in a reusable Smirkus souvenir cup… how cool is that?
Before our first show in Kennebunkport, Troupers “Whistle” El Ouahabi, Sam Ferlo, Liam Gundlach, Bekk McGowen, Noah Nielsen, and Keenan Wright-Sanson set up the mats backstage to practice their tumbling – back tucks and round-offs and handsprings galore, with Coach Sellam El Ouahabi standing by to give pointers. Lighting Technician Devin Mooney – a former gymnast – joined in the tumbling practice as well! It’s pretty cool to see so many people getting together to practice the same skills, and it was fascinating to hear from Sellam about how he learned tumbling technique – like the considerations you have to make for tumbling on different surfaces, or how it’s different tumbling in a straight line versus in the round.
During intermission at Tuesday evening’s show, all of the Troupers that perform in the wire act – Sorrell Nielsen, Keenan Wright-Sanson, Brin Schoelkopf, Noah Nielsen, Ariana Wunderle, and Alyson Mattei – recorded a message for Wire Coach Estelle Borel and Counselor Andrew Jones filmed the whole act to send to her because they wanted her to see how far the act had progressed.
The audience at that performance could be heard singing along with the munchkins when they popped out from behind the curtain, and when Glinda (Sarah Tiffin) and the Wizard (Troy Wunderle) entered the ring together for a bit of audience participation, the laughter in the tent was contagious!
No matter how exhausting the day may be, every moment of work feels that it has paid off when I see the fans in the bleachers as they watch the show. The young children sitting on black mats right in front of the ring had a look of awe as Noah Nielsen began his diabolo solo. Just a few minutes later, as the show concluded, the sun made the setting sky the color of cotton candy, which, in combination with the familiar smell coming from the midway tent, was pretty magical. What is an “ordinary” day on tour with Circus Smirkus is, in reality, pretty extraordinary.
There were two more shows in Kennebunkport on Wednesday, and as I watched the conclusion of the second act from the entrata, or entrance, of the Big Top I felt a tingling down my spine from the magic of it all. As the final pyramids went up in the finale, the presenters – the Kennebunkport Consolidated PTA – lamented that Smirkus’s stay there was over. Yet while it was sad to say goodbye to Kennebunkport and the people we had met there, after tearing down the tent it was time for a good night’s sleep before we were off to Newbury, Massachusetts.
The tent is all set up in Newbury and we’re waiting for the Troupers to arrive. There will be four performances of Oz Incorporated here in Newbury – today at 2pm and 7pm and tomorrow (Saturday) at 12:30pm and 5:30pm. Will we be seeing you there? Be sure to pick up your tickets here if you haven’t already!