Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Big Apple Circus

World Premiere of The Grand Tour!
Halloween Guest Ringmaster
Best-Selling Author R.L. Stine
at this one special performance celebrating Halloween
October 31, 2015 at 4:40pm at LINCOLN CENTER 

The Grand Tour! show runs until January 10, 2016 

Written and Created by JOEL JESKE
Big Apple Circus Ringmaster: JOHN KENNEDY KANE
Animal Trainer: JENNY VIDBEL
Original Music and Arrangements by DAVID BANDMAN, PETER BUFANO, JEFFREY W. HOLMES
Executive Director: WILL MAITLAND WEISS

Big Apple Circus welcomed Halloween Guest Ringmaster, R.L. Stine, author of the best-selling children's series Goosebumps for this special Halloween performance who loves to scare children. Children were encouraged to arrive in costume and they were allowed to go on pony rides during intermission. It was definitely interactive entertainment focusing on the children and quite amusing.

The Grand Tour! opened with Four-time Big Apple Circus Ringmaster John Kennedy Kane and two clowns Joel Jeske and Brent McBeth who set the stage to transport the audience to the Roaring 20s to begin the most adventurous trip around the world by ships, planes, trains, and automobiles. The trip started out in New York City to Europe, onwards to Arabia, Africa, and Asia and then, back to New York, home of the Big Apple. 

The dog acts aboard the Orient Express train through Europe and dancing horses while in the Arabian desert led by Jenny Vidbel were entertaining; Chiara Anastasini was exceptional with hula hoops depicting the stopover in Andalucía, Spain; international juggling sensation Alexander Koblikov; the Dominguez Brothers defied the law of gravity with their thrilling act on the Wheel of Wonder; the African acrobatic troupe Zuma Zuma; the Dosov Troupe soared on the teeterboard; Chinese hand balancers The Energy Trio; and, aerialist Sergey Akimov gave stunning performances all the while traveling around the world. 

The Big Apple Circus is a nonprofit that engages communities through the joy and wonder of classic circus arts.  They bring joy and laughter to hospitals, nursing homes; provide adapted performances for children with physical and cognitive disadvantages; teach kids life skills after school; and, distribute free and subsidized tickets to schools and nonprofit organizations serving low-income children and families. It's a circus with a heart.
To purchase tickets or for more information about Big Apple Circus, visit www.bigapplecircus.org. 

Laura Thompson

Michael Feinstein, Sinatra Centennial Celebration

Brooklyn Center for the Performing Arts at Brooklyn College
Opened is 2015-16 season with
Sinatra Centennial Celebration
October 25, 2015

MICHAEL FEINSTEIN is a two-time EmmyÒ and five-time GrammyÒ Award-nominated singer/pianist known as "The Ambassador of the Great American Songbook". This multi-platinum-selling entertainer opened Brooklyn Center's 61st season with a tribute to Ol' Blue Eyes in celebration of what would have been Frank Sinatra's upcoming 100th birthday on December 12th.

Feinstein's impeccable interpretive skills were brought to the greatest tunes sung by Sinatra in the 20th century. TED FIRTH did an outstanding job playing the piano accompanied by SEAN SMITH on Bass and MARK McLEAN on Drums. Feinstein having once met Sinatra sang some of the family's favorite songs as well as songs from Sinatra's preferred composers and lyricists, along with a commentary about the back story of many of the songwriters who wrote for Sinatra which proved very interesting.

Mid-way through, Feinstein spoke about the Great American Songbook Foundation that he founded dedicated to celebrating the art form and preserving it through educational programs, Master Classes, and the annual High School Songbook Academy. As a delightful surprise, he introduced the winner of the 2010 Great American Songbook Academy, ANNIE YOKOM who sang and performed brilliantly by herself with the trio of musicians and earned laudable applause.

Feinstein returned to the stage and finished with a swinging Sinatra medley, a real crowd pleaser, including "I've Got You Under My Skin, Witchcraft, and ending with New York, New York" but of course, a grand tribute to a great city! 

Overall, it was a wonderful rendition to Sinatra and Feinstein put together a great song selection that turned out to be a nice ode to Ol' Blues Eyes' career with some video footage as a backdrop. 

For more information about the Brooklyn Center for the Performing Arts at Brooklyn College
2015-16 season, please visit www.BrooklynCenter.org. 

Laura Thompson