EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Lifestyle

July 25, 2013

The Circus is Coming!

Young performers showcase to big feats

Follow the Yellow Brick Road to Newbury, where the circus will pitch a tent for a special “Wizard of Oz” themed show.

Newburyport’s Theater in the Open is bringing Circus Smirkus to Newbury’s Manter Field on Friday, Aug. 2, and Saturday, Aug. 3.

“It’s really a magic process to be a part of,” said Theater in the Open Artistic Director Edward Speck. “It’s all the things you’d expect from the circus except for the animals.”

Currently in its 34th year, Speck’s nonprofit theater organization has been busy preparing to welcome Circus Smirkus for the second time in two years after a long hiatus.

This year’s show is “Oz Incorporated,” based on “The Wizard of Oz,” as performed by the Vermont-based international youth circus that travels up and down the Northeast throughout the summer.

“They come in Thursday evening, set up shop, do their two shows Friday and Saturday and by Sunday morning, they are gone with the wind,” Speck said.

The one-ring big top event features 29 performers, ages 11 to 18.

“Much like Olympic gymnasts, they are going to be young because that’s the only age where you can pull this stuff off at,” Speck said of the circus performers.

“So these kids are performing at an extremely high level in terms of quality. Then you have the experience of children in the audience getting to see people their own age performing these amazing acts.”

Speck, 31, grew up with Theater in the Open, starting with its summer arts workshop as a youngster. When he was 15, the circus came to town for the first time.

“It was a huge step for Theater in the Open,” Speck said. “To work with another organization that was working on a slightly larger scale than we were and doing a large tour every year, and it became a rather large fundraiser for us. So, culturally and economically, it was a huge boon for Theater in the Open.”

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