Le Cirque is Coming to Town!

Posted by: wbtpress on Wednesday, May 25, 2011 at 4:26:00 pm
CIRQUE LE MASQUE     
Fire & Ice: An energetic explosion of sight, sound, imagination and beauty. An amazing display of theatrical artistry with mid-air acts of strength and impeccable timing-perfect for audiences of all ages. 
Monday & Tuesday, June 6th & 7th Matinee & Evening!
Cirque Le Masque co-owner Dennis Schussel (with his brother Bernie) answered a few questions to reporter Evelyn Shih, about his own obsession with the drama of the circus.
Q. How did you get interested in the circus, and in cirque theater?
When I was 14 years old, I used to wipe seats at the circus as an usher, did it for about five years. It was at the Island Garden Arena in West Hempstead (N.Y.). ...
I needed money — I needed those quarter tips! You want to be independent as a kid. It's just weird how things happen. How you begin with something like that, and then you end up in this business. It's just meant to be.
Q. What's your favorite act out of the 14 in "Fire and Ice," the current show?
The highlight is every act they watch. My show tends to play off different emotions.
But if I had to point out one, it would be the three-person hand-to-hand balancing, which takes it to another level. Their bodies are painted in silver, and they're balancing each other up in the air. At times it looks like they're suspended in midair.
Q. Who are the people in the show?
I contract acts for the year. The next year I'll bring in a whole new act. It keeps the show fresh. ... People are born into it. These are people who start when they're 3 years old. Their families were circus members, usually from Russia or Hungary or Poland.
Q. How do you find the acts?
I get e-mails all the time from performers, saying, "I heard you were great to work for. I'd love to submit my qualifications and my act to you." Every week I'm receiving 15 to 20 new submissions.
Q. Do you think the kind of circus theater you do is more popular in Europe than in America?
The acts themselves are not rooted here. The acts are rooted in Europe. But the roots of the show are deeply rooted here in America now, and it's becoming more and more popular. I think it hasn't even gotten near its peak.
Q. What do you like about your job?
We love what we do from Day One to today. Can't wait to go to work. ... A show like this, I say, brings more joy to the audience than a Broadway show, because it strikes a variety of emotions that you don't get in one kind of a show. I love that aspect of it. When I stand backstage, we get standing ovations 99 percent of the time with screams and yells. I still get goose bumps.

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