As a veteran viewer of the Jim Rose Circus Side Show, Ringling Brothers, and Cirque the phrase Circus Freak has a beautiful pallet of meanings to me. The Kids and Kine of Creative Motion that host Open Stage by the moniker of Circus Freaks do not disappoint. This is a new playground for a number of my friends. Reading about their comfort and enjoyment of the venue prompted my desire to explore it with them. The enthusiasm and passion with which they gushed about the event certainly meant it had to be a good place to while away an evening.
Let's start with the venue - House of Poets. Talk about your throw back to a simpler time and vibe kinda joint. Cushions on the dance floor, bar stools at the rails, comfy couches and chairs to sink into surrounding the stage. Lighting, which you will come to discover is a weakness of mine, is a divine hodgepodge of chandlers, street lamps and traditional stage lighting, leaving the audience in a gentle glow of warm light. The stage itself is beautifully built and appointed, and man-alive does the tech crew treat it well.
Improve and talent meet in a glorious riot in the house band, full of talented and witty musicians. Quick on a pick up or tag line, these guys had no qualms riffing on the MC all night long. Intro and extro music for the acts seemed to mesh well with the feel, if not out right continue to work just displayed. Humor and harmony, who could ask for more? Be ready to get more with DJ TJ running the fun during the play time between acts. The floor was never empty of dancers, spinners and hoopers.
Wearing their signature bowlers the crew and staff of Open Stage are a friendly lot, and hands on with their audience. From the greeting at the door, to the hollered welcome at the curtain, to drop by check ins from the Emcee, the new folks are welcomed well and heartily.
The show itself comes in three stages - Main Show, Play Time, The Dregs. The Main show runs about an hour or so, and begins promptly at 8. Everyone is instructed to be positive and participator during the show. Snark is strictly taboo, and counter productive to feel and flow of Open Stage as a whole. What this leaves you with is a rowdy crowd who wants to see the performers succeed. This week's offerings included traditional vocals, dubstepped vocals, dance, instrumentals and a very memorable burlesque of Princess Peach, the One Up Star was very cheeky!
Play Time offers the opportunity to meet and greet on and off the performance/practice space. Some folks are kind enough to bring extra gear to share. This is where freaklings can work out new tricks on Monday nights. It is a visual treat for those more of the spectating variety. Flowing streams of light from hoops, poi, staves and flags create a kaleidoscope of every changing color. This is what passes for intermission, and is when some folks who observe traditional work/school hours may have to make a break for it, as the next session starts somewhat late.
Roughly 1030-11PM sees the start of The Dregs. Consider this your ope mic night on a whole new level. All manner of self expression and art takes place during this session. You can sign up on their website to get your time slot, 5 mins or less, to do your thing. Some sexy spoken word from Cypher. A hooper who displayed some entrancing choreography with dynamic level, speed and rotational shifts. The last act I was able to enjoy before I finally had to admit it was pumpkin time was someones first time on stage. Bravery is a shaky voice finding the mic for the first time. Beauty was the crowd reaction when her tremulous voice silenced and her trembling hands folded up her notes. To say the crowd went wild would be an understatement of vast proportion, and a disservice to the spirit of the Freaks.
In one night I was instructed by an Empress, hugged by a Monkey, encouraged by a Ukulele playing photographer, and entertained to the gills. Thanks for openly sharing your corner of tent, Circus Freaks. Special thanks to Ryan for continuing to ask me to come see his new playground.
For a better write up of the Open Stage experience see Megan's entry - http://whostheminionhere.blogspot.com/2012/03/my-night-with-circus-freaks.html