Viva Variety!

Viva Variety!

Cirque A Palooza wraps up three weeks of extraordinary performances at the Pasadena Playhouse

By Carl Kozlowski 08/08/2013

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The Pasadena Playhouse has long been home to quality theatrical shows — from comedies and dramas to musicals and one-person performances. 

But for the past three weeks, the folks at the Playhouse have taken a wild creative leap by bringing an entirely different style of entertainment to their hallowed stage while playing host to the Cirque A Palooza Festival. 
The brainchild of its co-producer and host, Stefan Haves, the festival has offered a self-described mix of “summer spectacle and comic calamity” via a mix of main stage variety shows and cirque-style specialty acts, in addition to a circus camp for children. This weekend, the production ends with a bang with three days of events guaranteed to enthrall and entertain men, women and children of all ages. (OK, we realize we’re sounding a little bit like P.T. Barnum here.) 

Tonight, the fun kicks off with the Grand Guignolers melodramatic storytelling troupe bringing over-the-top and likely bloody storytelling to the stage of the Playhouse’s smaller, more experimental Carrie Hamilton Theatre. 

But things really get lively on Friday as mime artist Benedikt Negro performs at 4 p.m. and daredevil cabaret singer Amy G. and the rock band Gag Reflex take the stage at 6 p.m. — with tickets for each show at $20 — at the Carrie Hamilton Theatre, before the main stage offers “Road to Palooza: A Variety Show Spectacular” at 8 p.m. for $30. 

On Saturday, the festival continues with physical comedy team Ten West at noon, comedic storytelling with Studio Zani at 2 p.m., cabaret singer Amy G. at 4 p.m., and the Grand Guignolers returning at 6 and 10 p.m. at the Carrie Hamilton Theatre, all for $20 per performance. The main stage closes out the fest with another 8 p.m. presentation of “Road to Palooza: A Variety Show Spectacular” for $30. 

“It’s a big festival of variety art, more than a show,” says Haves. “We can make it big and ambitious, because I can get 40 people in a show. It’s more of a celebration. 

“It’s a big festival of variety art, more than a show, with trapeze and aerial fabric acts in the air, and wheel acts, hand-to-hand artists and contortionists on the ground. Everything you’d see in a Cirque du Soleil show you’d see here, but the big difference is I’m a comic act designer and emphasize the comedy.” 

The closing weekend of the Cirque A Palooza Festival takes place tonight through Saturday night at the Pasadena Playhouse, 39 S. El Molino Ave., Pasadena. Tickets are $20 and $30. For more information, call (626) 356-7529 or visit pasadenaplayhouse.org. 

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