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Yuletide Celebration

The Indianapolis Symphony, and Detroit Symphony Orchestra shows have been my most satisfying performances to date. Although the act was relatively simple, only lasting about six minutes with the large balls and three pins, the context for the number and the environment with orchestra was astounding.

It's great to be able to present juggling in a classic setting like the orchestra hall. My character was a doll that has been animated in a magic toyshop on Christmas Eve. To really sell the idea that I was a doll, I shaved my head and did makeup to match some other dolls that appear on the stage. My wife, Lisa, was hired by the producer to do my costumes and some of the stage props. It was great for us to have complete control over the look and feel of the character, and the director was ever so responsive to our ideas. As such, the crowds were most perplexed when they saw me enter the stage because of the bald head and the extreme makeup! But, as soon as I started my act, I could feel all of the kids in the house wake up and scoot up the edge of their seats. Hey, maybe this symphony thing isn't so bad after all!?!

I have performed with live music during the Star of Indiana, and with the circus, but to get to juggle in front of a professional symphony was the cat's meow. The aspect about the shows that appealed to me the most was how the audiences responded to the act. It was great to have juggling, which most consider to be a folk-art, cleaned up and presented in the sophisticated setting of the orchestra hall. It was funny to do the pin juggling at the Circle Center Theater in Indianapolis, because I had done that same routine a decade before as a street performer just down the block. Needless to say, when working the walkways, I didn't have two thousand person audiences cheering every show! It was a fun deja-vu!

The Yuletide shows are comprised mainly of Christmas music, with dancers, actors, and a juggler (yours truly), performing downstage of the musicians. It's almost like a variety show a-la Bob Hope/Bing Crosby and White Christmas. Normally, I don't go in for the sappy, feel-good for everyone shows, but this one even put me in the holiday spirit!

After working with the ISO in 2000 for a month, I was ever so pleased to be asked in 2001 to do the same act with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. Although a shorter run, the DSO shows were equally well received. I am hopeful that 2002 will see the Toy Shop return somewhere else!