Send in the Clowns? ………. Maybe next year.
Many have called asking when Cirque Devou Deux would be rescheduled.
There is nothing quite like the gathering together of friends and generations of family to enjoy a free, end of the summer concert on the natural lawn bowl at the historic band shell in Covington’s Devou Park. For 18 summers the Kentucky Symphony Orchestra has been the drawing card providing numerous musical memories. The Symphony has teamed up with groups like Over the Rhine and Blessid Union of Souls, accompanied the Beethoven 5k-run and classical aerobics class, the Three KY Tenors, or let the Symphony’s subsidiary group the Boogie Band rock the park with nostalgic pop music from the last several decades, and the first Cirque Devou in 2010. The common denominator in all of these memorable outdoor Labor Day performances, and those KSO outdoor concerts attended by more than 310,000 area residents since the Symphony started performing in Devou Park in 1995, was relatively cooperative weather.
When the thunderstorms blew through the region this past Saturday, a little after 5:00 p.m., they took out power, tree limbs and a production that was to be special. Back in May Circus Mojo, from over the hill in Ludlow, KY and the KSO had decided to come together again to create a brand new circus show with new international acts and all new music that would form the core of perhaps a new KSO group – a circus band. Days and hours of planning and creating were required to put together 18 acts and 22 pieces of music (12 of which were special commissioned arrangements). Specialized musicians and artists were contracted from around the area, the nation and 5 countries. Rehearsals commenced, local children at Circus Mojo Summer camps were recruited, sound and lighting companies were engaged, the City of Covington Parks and Recreation folks cut the lawn and went through the concert support checklist; insurance riders were issued, radio and television promotional appearances were made, TANK buses were slated to do the shuttle run up to the park, concession items and equipment were purchased or rented and volunteers were tasked to various duties, etc. All moving parts were working well independently and together for weeks.
The national weather service on Thursday began issuing precipitation chances for the weekend. Moving such a large scale event based on a best guess of 20%-40% chance of rain (tenth to quarter of an inch), really was never an option, as there is/was no venue in NKY available to accommodate such a show. Devou Park remained the first and only choice.
Friday evening and Saturday morning began with 4 box trucks converging on Devou Park with equipment for the show. Around 7:00 a.m. we endured a brief thunderstorm that soaked the aerial silks that had been hung. They dried by rehearsal at 10:30 a.m. The final musical selection for the show arrived with the conductor that morning (Banquine from Cirque Du Soleil’s Journey of Man), It was to accompanying the fire troupe, aerialists and the entire cast. The rehearsal went off without many hitches though it was oppressively hot and muggy. Everyone was anticipating an incredible show of shows.
From 1:00 to 5:00 payroll was cut, printed programs were stuffed, soft drinks were iced, scripts / flowcharts were still being written and a powerpoint / video presentation was finalized (which recognized the KSO’s generous sponsors, —Toyota, Fischer Homes, Strauss Troy, Macy’s, US Bank, ArtsWave, and the KAC) .
Then around 5 p.m., Mother Nature appeared with winds and horizontal rain knocking over the orchestra’s music stands and drenching the electronic equipment. Folks ran to cover and move expensive gear. Hoping it may just be a quick passing shower, all of the principals gathered to see what could be done, if and when the weather cooperated. It was determined that more than half of the circus acts had to be cut. The lighting towers were dismantled and trucked out, and the rain continued. At 6:30 the circus performers were paid then cut loose to perform many of the terrific acts with canned music at the non-air conditioned Ludlow Theatre for a few hundred die-hard circus fans and concert-goers. Watching the less than encouraging radar imagery, at 6:45 the sound company began striking their water logged equipment, and after 7:00, the orchestra was handed their checks as they turned in their books of music.
“One night only” was used to describe this concert, because the musicians and circus performers are all independent contractors, who were recruited and contracted from all over the region, country and the globe (two of the performers boarded a plane for their native Hungary on Tuesday). Unfortunately this particular show cannot be rescheduled. On Labor Day the musician folders were emptied and the 22 charts (9 of which have yet to be performed) were all placed together in a box marked “Circus.” Perhaps one day the KSO and Circus Mojo, will again give collaboration another shot, but Cirque Devou Deux will remain The Show that didn’t show.
The Kentucky Symphony Orchestra looks forward to moving indoors to open its 22nd season celebrating Giuseppi Verdi’s 200th birthday, Saturday, Oct. 5 at 8 p.m. at the Florence Baptist Church at Mt. Zion. I hope you will consider attending one or more of our exciting upcoming subscription series concerts. Visit the subscription series page for more information.
Music & Executive Director