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for The Brooklyn Paper
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"CircuSundays" are back. After a four-year hiatus, the old dock at Conover Street in Red Hook has been rebuilt and the Showboat Barge has been refitted with a new bottom sheathed in plastic, re-caulked and re-fastened.

It was a job that David Sharps, president of The Waterfront Museum and Showboat Barge, says cost half a million dollars - a quarter million for the boat and a quarter million for the dock. Now the Showboat is ready to welcome visitors of all ages into its cabin to chuckle and gasp on Sundays in June.

The circus acts are booked and introduced by artistic director and mistress of ceremonies Karen E. Gersch, a world-renowned circus performer and artist whose paintings and drawings, "Sequins to Sawdust: Art from Circus Life," are on display on the walls of the Showboat. A reception for Gersch, who is a graduate of Pratt Institute and founding member of the Big Apple Circus, will be held on the barge June 11.

Gersch’s "CircuSundays" line-up features a variety of juggling, clown and magic acts, as well as feats of daring that will thrill young and old.

"There will be many old favorites that I had to bring back because they were so over-the-top," Gersch told GO Brooklyn. Returning artists include the aerial dexterity of Fran Sperling on trapeze on June 26; Slack the Clown Prince of Slack Wire (a.k.a. Dikki Ellis), also on June 26; the magic of Torkova on June 12; and Will Shaw, whom Gersch calls "a cabaret performer and an eccentric juggler," also on June 12

There will also be "an exciting new roster of performers," Gersch said.

Todd Robbins, a 2004 hit with his off-Broadway show "Carnival Knowledge," will perform magic and display his quirky sense of humor on June 19. And Gersch says he’ll "do a lot of schmoozing" too.

Anthony Bryant, who performs on June 26, is a hip-hop rhythmic gymnast and baton twirler whom Gersch believes is destined to be a star in the world of dance.

The Singer & Saw act, on June 19, pairs a lyric soprano with a clown who plays the carpenter’s saw.

On June 26, Captain Posh and Meatloaf the Magnificent will both clown around. "Captain Posh is a nautical clown who performs a game show with a wheel of fortune and audience participat­ion," said Gersch. "While Meatloaf the Magnificent is a fabulous juggler and a very funny clown who will keep the audience on the edge of their seats with his shenanigans."

On June 12, Gersch invites the audience to sing along with The Mighty Shakes, who perform on violin, guitar, penny whistle and mandolin and listen to the folktales of Julie Pasqual. On June 26, they can challenge their minds with the Quizmaster and his arsenal of non-vital information.

She encourages families to come early and enjoy the free live music in the garden on the pier, presented by Ilie Radu, who comes all the way from Moldavia, Russia to play the accordion, harmonica and Mondavian flute. Pre-show entertainment also includes circus acts such as Zazu the Stilt Dancer, comedians and maritime clowns.

And Gersch certainly hopes everyone will enjoy her paintings and drawings, which chronicle both her travels with one- and three-ring circuses and theater festivals in the United States and abroad. The exhibit also features portraits of some performers from previous "CircuSunda­ys." Many of the works are accompanied by a brief narrative or description explaining their origin or inspiration.

The home of "CircuSunda­ys," and the Waterfront Museum, is The Showboat Barge. Originally called Lehigh Valley Barge No. 79, it was built in 1914 and may be the only surviving wooden railroad barge of the Lighterage Era (1860-1960) when tugs and barges moved cargo between outlying rail lines and the New York City waterfront. It was bought by Sharps in 1985 for $500.

For anyone who has ever imagined running away with the circus, or stowing away on a ship, "CircuSundays" are the next best thing.

 

"CircuSundays" are June 12, 19 and 26 with shows at noon, 2:30 and 5 pm. Tickets are available by reservation for $12, $6 children under 12, and at the door when available for $15 adults, $8 children under 12. The Waterfront Museum and Showboat Barge is located at the foot of Conover Street in Red Hook. For reservations and more information, call (877) 238-5596 or visit these Web sites: www.smarttix.com and www.waterfrontmuseum.org.

"Sequins to Sawdust: Art from Circus Life," an exhibit of paintings and drawings by Karen E. Gersch, will be on display through June 29 on the barge. A reception, with refreshments and entertainment, will be held for Gersch on June 11, from 4 pm to 7 pm.

Updated 4:00 pm, November 10, 2010
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