It’s day two of rehearsals and time to meet the rest of the cast. For Martin and I this is very exciting but we have a certain amount of trepidation. Neither Martin nor I has met any of the folks we will be working with and we have no idea what to expect. This is the group dynamic we will be working with for the next year so there is some concern.
There is a lot to consider when putting together a cast and I am usually very picky about who I work with especially on longer projects. Obviously you want the best performers you can get. You want performers who will compliment each other on stage, who are flexible and willing to work together to create fun new ideas on stage. But it’s also important that they are cool backstage. Artists are crazy. We are ego driven, fueled by adrenaline, insecurity, and obsession. The best of us on stage are often the worst off stage.
In general variety artists tend to be a bit more sane and easier to work with than actors. Comedians make a living talking about how crazy they are but mostly the crazy is neuroses not full blown nuts. Also comedians spend an hour a night in thereapy venting to the crowd. They explore their crazy, deal with it, make fun of it, become friends with it, package it and sell it. Crazy is interesting on stage but not fun to work with. I know some fantastic performers who I would never work with because of the backstage drama. I am willing to put up with a fair amount of drama for a good show but sometimes insecurity manifests as aggression, or rudeness, or worse. I can put up with a lot of crazy but I have very little tolerance for jerks backstage. Please please please oh lord give us some great people.
The first time I worked with Danny Bonaduce. He has a reputation on stage for being a total ass. He even did a reality show about going to anger management classes. Here is a secret that everyone who works with Danny knows. He is a total pro on stage, amazing to work with backstage, and one of the most giving performers I have ever shared the stage with. Show business is all about the show and what you see on stage is very different from who the person is back stage so it goes both ways.
Martin and I are both deeply concerned about the makeup of the cast and the lack of diversity in the show. Only one girl and a lot of comedy acts. Ultimately it will work. It has to. We are under contract for a year so we have to figure out a way to make this work.
I’ve done two other shows for the GOP and have never worked with anyone who was not a total pro on stage and off. I have never worked with a single person who was not a delight to be around so I have hope.
The first person I meet is Thomas Janke. He is very young. Sixteen. Insane. This kid has a year long contract as a juggler and he is just sixteen. I’ve seen video of him online from three years ago when he was with Circus Krona (he was 13 at the time). He is a very classic circus style juggler. Very fast, raw, full of youthful exuberance and charm.
The next person I meet is Ethan Law. Also young, twenty five and charming. Very handsome, fit, and charming. He has all of his hair so naturally I hate him already. Ethan does something called Cyr. It’s a giant metal ring that he does acrobatic tricks with. Ethan is cool, a bit too cool, but he is jovial and apparently he is very good on stage.
Next we meet our closing act, Pavel. Pavel just won the silver metal at the Paris circus competition which is the biggest in the world. That means he is the best hand stand artist in the world this year. I’m excited to work with him but he speaks no German and very little English so communication is limited.
We are just settling in to begin when a blast of excitement explodes into the room. Tony Manducas. Tony is amazing. I have only seen him perform once in Bella Italia. He is the only act in our show that I have seen already seen and he is completely different from anyone else in the show. Tony has been performing for 40 years and he is a charismatic fireball that lights up the room. His partner (cousin) Alex and he do a comedy hand to hand acrobatics act. Alex is movie star handsome. I mean model pretty and buff as a bull. Tony if five foot nothing with a big booming voice, ready smile, and infectious laugh the just changes the energy in the room and puts everyone at ease.
Our final cast member is Mila Roujilo but she is performing in Japan until next week so Natalia Bakun is stepping in for her. Natalia is Russian, funny, sexy, experienced, smart, and fourth generation circus.
So… That’s the cast. So far everyone is fantastic. Experienced, fun, charming, charismatic and nice. This is a problem because in every cast there is always at least one jerk. None of these people is a Jerk. Which means it must be me. Damn it.
Paul Nathan is a writer, magician, comedian, and absinthe expert. Paul is widely regarded as the best magician in San Francisco and one of the funniest magicians in America which is ironic since he is performing in Germany for the next year.