The appearance of all these new "cirques" doesn't necessarily worry David. "There's room for everybody as long as what they're doing is done with quality, with taste," he says. "A few years ago, we were playing in New York City, and at the same time that we were at Battery Park, Ringling Bros. was at Madison Square Garden and the Big Apple Circus was at Lincoln Center, and the three companies were sold out."
One of the elements that makes both "Cirque Ingenieux" and Cirque du Soleil accessible to international audiences is the lack of dialogue. "Cirque Ingenieux," however, does not let this stand in the way of storytelling.
Nine acts linked
The plot of "Cirque Ingenieux" links together nine acts ranging from Mongolian contortionists to Polish strongmen. "It's a very simple story, not like you're going to see 'Hamlet,' but enough of a story so there's emotional resonance," says playwright Allen, who was hired after Goldberg teamed up with co-producer Kenneth H. Gentry, a Gaithersburg-based Broadway veteran, who also brought in a team of Broadway designers. "The audience can identify with certain characters. When you get to the end, you've gotten to know these people."
All this is accomplished using only about 15 words. "The entire story is told through movement and facial expression. Director Joe Leonardo puts it perfectly. He says it's the first time he's directed a silent movie," says Allen, whose credit in the program reads "librettist," the same term used in another wordless art form, ballet.
Goldberg spent years tracking down some of the acts connected by Allen's story. Jason McPherson, who plays the character of the Tailor, was a street performer the producer saw in San Francisco. Ekaterina Fedosseeva and Anna Shvetsova, the two young Russian girls who play Sarah, the little girl at the core of the story, and the circus performer Sarah emulates, have been working for Goldberg since 1993, when they were just 8 and 5 years old, respectively.
Alexander Streltsov, who plays Sarah's brother, is a Russian aerialist Goldberg first heard about six years ago. "In Russia, [he] had won every award for gymnastics. He was called the Flying Angel," Goldberg says. "I was trying to locate him because I had an idea about a flying act with fabric. I had been looking all over the world." To his surprise, Goldberg found Streltsov in Atlanta, where he was a freshman at Emory University, having immigrated to the United States with his family.
Goldberg continues to scout talent in every city he visits, dropping in at local gymnastics programs and street festivals. In Baltimore, he plans to take in the street performers at Harborplace.
The Baltimore engagement of "Cirque Ingenieux" is somewhat of a homecoming for Goldberg, who worked on two fund-raisers for the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and two others for the Maryland Science Center in the late 1980s.
Back then, he was covering ceilings with twinkling stars and surrounding tables with light tubes. Now he's conceived an entire theatrical circus, even designing some of the costumes.
Four-legged stilts and tubing that looks like air-conditioning duct work are among the costume components bearing the Goldberg touch. It's the touch of a man who has finally realized his childhood dream of running off and joining the theater.
Some of the characters Sarah meets are:
1) A Singer (Tara-Lynn Wagner, left) with Sarah (Ekaterina Fedosseeva)
2) Twin contortionists (Biambahav and Biambsuren Janchivdorj) flanking trapeze artists (Chiharu Matsuki, Nathalie Hebert and Veronique Thibeault)
3) A Juggler (Jochen Schell)
4) Strong Men (Jaroslaw Marciniak, bottom, and Dariusz Wronski)
Where: Lyric Opera House, 140 W. Mount Royal Ave.
When: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, 5:30 p.m. Sunday; matinees at 3: 30 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday
Pub Date: 3/01/98