Dallas — In case you were wondering if there’s a stage that can handle both B.J. Cleveland and Liz Mikel—two local actors known for being larger-than-life onstage and off, not to mention having two of the most recognizable laughs when they’re in an audience—look no farther than the latest year-turning performance from Lone Star Circus at the Dallas Children’s Theater, which this year joins as a collaborator.
Mikel took on the role of Mistress of Merriment last year, and this time, she’s joined by Cleveland as Ringmaster. At Friday’s opening of Charivari (pronounced “SHA-ree-va-ree”), they were still working on their banter together, but even in rehearsal-but-not-really mode, they’re a force.
Created and directed by Fanny Kerwich, Charivari brings together a solid group of circus performers and clowns, the latter segment including Kerwich herself, local clowns Slappy (Tiffany Riley) and Monday (Dick Monday), with their usual hilarious mix of physical comedy, and Colombian Alex Achero, sporting a fronthawk, tails and his own circus skills.
A surprise performance on Friday came from R&B singer Erykah Badu, who performed a song on the upright piano while her daughter Puma showed off some gymnastics talent on a single trapeze. Not to be outdone, Mikel did a terrific cover of "Feelin' Good" as a Lone Star Circus performer did a routine on the aerial silks.
As for the circus acts, there wasn’t anything we haven’t seen before, but that’s the beauty of the circus arts: humans performing incredible feats never cease to amaze, no matter how many times we see them.
Floridian Shelby Kisiel was lovely in the rhythmic gymnastics routine, and Dallas native Jesse Patterson wowed on Hula-Hoops, spinning several of them on her body and limbs at once, resembling a giant Slinky.
The Argentinian twins known as Fusco Brothers juggled an insane number of juggling pins and boleadoras at once, and Americans Morgaine and Ryan did a graceful in-air tango on the aerial straps. Above the audience in the Rosewood Center for Family Arts, Americans Morgan and Cody made the double trapeze look effortless.
The daredevil husband-and-wife team of Karoly (Hungary) and Anita (Brazil) Zeman made us dizzy in a roller skating routine on a small circular platform, and then later he showed off a mastery of BMX tricking.
It’s not a traditional circus without some animals. Several canine breeds leapt hurdles, danced, climbed ladders and pushed each other in carts during the Pompeyo Family & Their Amazing Rescue Dogs segment. The husband is Cuban, the wife Russian and the pooches adorable.
But the most daring four-legged creature was Scooby, the chihuahua that joined American hand balancer Christian Atyde Stoinev. As the man used his arm strength to balance on bases that barely seem stable, Scooby crawled on his master’s shoulders and back, sitting up on his hind legs. For the highlight, Stoinev did a vertical handstand while balancing on pins, as Scooby climbed and then perched at the very top—on the bottoms of his human’s feet.
It takes that kind of doggie derring-do to upstage Mikel and Cleveland.