CIRQUE-A-PALOOZA – a Summer Spectacle & Comic Calamity at the Pasadena Playhouse – Los Angeles theater report


An exciting new summer festival, CIRQUE-A-PALOOZA  – a Summer Spectacle & Comic Calamity, created and directed by Stefan Haves – is now running at The Pasadena Playhouse.

Mainstage feature acts will include a special night with some of the greatest magicians of The Magic Castle.

Road to Palooza: A Variety Show Spectacular will also be a Mainstage event for five performances featuring a number of the amazing acts playing the festival and rotating special guest performers. The Carrie Hamilton Theatre will host an eclectic variety of specialty acts over the three-week period.  The CIRQUE-A-PALOOZA festival will launch on July 19 and perform through August 11, 2013.

CIRQUE-A-PALOOZA brings together a diverse group of global performers for the pleasure of the local community. These artists celebrate inclusion of all, through raw, atomic physical performance, circus skills and variety arts.

Grand Guignolers
Grand Guignolers

The CIRQUE-A-PALOOZA festival remaining schedule is as follows:

Thursday, August 1
6:00 p.m. in the Carrie Hamilton Theatre – Moonie

Friday, August 2
6:00 p.m. in the Carrie Hamilton Theatre – Moonie
8:00 p.m. in the Carrie Hamilton Theatre – The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari
8:00 p.m. on The Pasadena Playhouse Mainstage – Road to Palooza: A Variety Show Spectacular

Saturday, August 3
12:00 p.m. in the Carrie Hamilton Theatre –  Studio Zanni
2:00 p.m. in the Carrie Hamilton Theatre – Benedikt Negro
6:00 p.m. in the Carrie Hamilton Theatre – Mat Plendl
8:00 p.m. on The Pasadena Playhouse Mainstage – Road to Palooza: A Variety Show Spectacular
10:00 p.m. in the Carrie Hamilton Theatre – Jason Rodgers

Sunday, August 4
4:00 p.m. in the Carrie Hamilton Theatre – Benedikt Negro
7:00 p.m. on The Pasadena Playhouse Mainstage – The Magic Castle Night – Spotlight Act!
Join us for an evening of magic direct from the Magic Castle in Hollywood. Each of the night’s performers has won a coveted award from the prestigious Academy of Magical Arts. You’ll be dazzled by incredible sleight-of-hand, world-class comedy, and the art of grand illusion. Whether you’re laughing or gasping in astonishment, you are sure to be delighted by this evening’s magical show.
10:00 p.m. in the Carrie Hamilton Theatre – Brookledge Follies

Wednesday, August 7
8:00 p.m. in the Carrie Hamilton Theatre – Mat Plendl

Thursday, August 8
9:00 p.m. in the Carrie Hamilton Theatre – Grand Guignolers

Friday, August 9
4:00 p.m. in the Carrie Hamilton Theatre – Benedikt Negro
6:00 p.m. in the Carrie Hamilton Theatre – Amy G.
8:00 p.m. on The Pasadena Playhouse Mainstage – Road to Palooza: A Variety Show Spectacular

Saturday, August 10
12:00 p.m. in the Carrie Hamilton Theatre – Ten West
2:00 p.m. in the Carrie Hamilton Theatre – Studio Zanni
4:00 p.m. in the Carrie Hamilton Theatre – Amy G.
6:00 p.m. in the Carrie Hamilton Theatre – Grand Guignolers
8:00 p.m. on The Pasadena Playhouse Mainstage – Road to Palooza: A Variety Show Spectacular
10:00 p.m. in the Carrie Hamilton Theatre – Grand Guignolers

Sunday, August 11
7:00 p.m. on The Pasadena Playhouse Mainstage – Road to Palooza: A Variety Show Spectacular

About the creators:

Stefan Haves (Creator/Director) has worked with Cirque du Soleil since 2006 as a Comic Act Designer.  He is also a Cirque du Soleil casting partner specializing in clowns and characters and is a master teacher for Cirque du Soleil.  Haves has been a guest lecturer and served as a director at universities nationwide including Tisch School for the Arts (NYU’s New Studio on Broadway).

Ticketing info:

In addition to individual event tickets, Festival Passes are being offered with unlimited access to all CIRQUE-A-PALOOZA performances; VIP Festival Passes are also available.  A VIP Festival Pass, in addition to receiving access to all Festival performances in Row D premium seating will offer meet and greet opportunities with CIRQUE-A-PALOOZA performers.  Festival Passholders must RSVP at least 24 hours in advance for any planned attendance to secure seating.  All Festival Passholders will also be provided early entry into the theater.

Brookledge Follies
Brookledge Follies

CIRQUE-A-PALOOZA festival performances

July 19, 20, 27; and July 31 – August 11, 2013.

The Pasadena Playhouse

39 South El Molino Avenue,

Pasadena, CA 91101.

Regular ticket prices are $30.00 (General Admission) for a single Mainstage festival event ticket

$20.00 (General Admission) for a single event ticket in the Carrie Hamilton Theatre.

Festival Passes with unlimited access to all events are available for $99.00 (General Admission) each and VIP Festival Passes with unlimited access to all events as well as VIP benefits are available for $150.00 each (Row D Seating). Only a limited number of Festival Passes will be available for purchase.

Festival single tickets and passes may be purchased by calling The Pasadena Playhouse at 626-356-7529, or by visiting The Pasadena Playhouse Box Office, Tuesday – Sunday from 12:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m. during non-performance dates.  On performance dates the Box Office is open Tuesday – Saturday from 12:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. and 12:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. on Sunday.  For more information, visit

Purchase tickets online here.

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More About the CIRQUE-A-PALOOZA Acts:

Brookledge Follies

The Brookledge Follies was conceived and brought to life in a very special, very private theater in LA. There it has flourished for several years, gaining a cult following and expanding its eclectic roster of variety stars. Now, for the first time ever, the public is invited to attend a special presentation of this underground sensation!

Amy G.

In a daredevil variety cabaret, the masterful entertainer, Amy G deconstructs before your eyes, and then rebuilds beauty from the inside out.  She gleefully defies shame and categorization. Entershamement features the legendary NY rock band, Gag Reflex, and is directed by John-Stuart Fauquet. For more information, visit here.

“Amy Gordon, a comic actress of great gifts.” Clive Barnes, Newsday New York
“A studied combination of elegance and slapstick… underpinned by impeccable talent.””- Peter Crawley, Irish Times
“A comic powerhouse with a spectacular voice.” – The Australian

Grand Guignolers

Since 2007, the Los Angeles based Grand Guignolers, lead by creator/director, Debbie McMahon, present sold-out original productions combining traditional physical forms in new ways: melodrama, commedia dell’arte, clown, dance, puppetry, mime, vaudeville and Grand Guignol in a 1920s Parisian cocktail party atmosphere. Previous productions include A Grand Guignol Children’s Show* (*NOT For Children) and Absinthe, Opium and Magic: 1920s Shanghai that was given an honorary award by the LA Drama Critics Circle and played both at ArtWorks and at The Actors’ Gang. Productions have earned LA Weekly GO!, LA Times Critic’s Choice, and Ovation Recommended. “So much more than a night at the theatre – Debbie McMahon and her incredibly talented ensemble troupe go all out to create a mystical aura that thoroughly envelops the audience.” They’ve been called, “vivacious and rude entertainment”; “insanely entertaining… creates new genre.” “performed with panache, fierce determination and impressive physical dexterity” “a rollicking, authentic charm.” For more information, please visit here.

Grand Guignolers bring: Laughter, Terror & Tiny Naughty Puppets “It’s all fun and games until someone loses and eye… or two.” In their unique blend of melodrama, dance and tiny naughty puppets, the 1920s Parisian themed Grand Guignolers’ present an evening of classic Grand Guignol horror including The Final Kiss and The Crime in the Madhouse. The tiny puppet troupe, les petits guignolers, will present The Even More Final than the Final Kiss, with existential angst, sexual frustration and gore. Due to violence, this production is not appropriate for small children.


The provocative MooNiE, AKA Philip Earl Johnson, just closed playing Tartuffe in Tartuffe at The Court Theatre in Chicago. MooNiE will sneak up on you, so to speak, as he invites you into his world of stunts, misperceptions and lack of guile with a deceptive innocence. Part clown, part storyteller, his brand of comic underplay often results in actual accomplishment. The kind where you’re glad you did. MooNiE has been playing to audiences for many years at The Southern California Renaissance Pleasure Faire and this is a rare opportunity to see him play onstage on California. For more information, please visit here.

Benedikt Negro

Benedikt Negro is a pantomime and clown who currently stars in Cirque du Soleil’s water show, “O”. He trained at Die Etage School for the Performing Arts in Berlin. Originally from Xanten, Germany, Benedikt began his career as a performer at the tender age of nine. He performed as a sideshow artist in his first professional show. Interest for this fascinating and unique performance grew quickly in Germany, which led Benedikt to perform in several festivals all over the country, walking on glass as well as eating and breathing fire. In 1991, Benedikt joined a small German circus called “Circus Apollo”. It is with the members of the circus that he then learned acrobatics and juggling as well as knife throwing. Benedikt toured with Circus Apollo for four years and later for three years with “Hallucination Company” which blended circus acts, theater and original music. Benedikt experimented increasingly in performance with conveying emotions without words, which began his fascination and work with mime. In 2003 he joined Cirque du Soleil’s “O”. He has been with the show for ten years, over five thousand performances. Recently, Benedikt has been filming with directors James Cameron and Andrew Adamson. In addition to his work in Cirque du Soleil, Benedikt started his own Show, “MIME SHOW” a European-style Mime and Pantomime show. The show boasts hilarious and virtuosic performances inspired by varying themes, ranging from the topical to the absurd. For more information, please visit here.

Studio Zanni
Studio Zanni brings commedia dell’Arte to life for modern day audiences through our school programs, public performances, and actor training. We are a group of actor educators with over 60 years of teaching and performing experience, including appearances at the Walt Disney Concert Hall, Mark Taper Forum, Hollywood Bowl, European tours and festivals across North America. We have taught throughout the greater Los Angeles area, including workshops in physical theater, commedia dell’arte and integrating arts into the curriculum at schools throughout the LAUSD, Plaza de la Raza, Virginia Avenue Project, USC, UCLA, Pepperdine, Cal Arts, UCSD, among many others.

Ten West

Ten West, LA’s premier physical comedy team, is pleased as punch to make their debut at The Pasadena Playhouse as part of CIRQUE-A-PALOOZA. They have performed to critical and audience acclaim across N. America including New York, Chicago, New Orleans, Seattle, San Francisco, Portland, Toronto and Vancouver to name a few. Locally, they’ve graced the stages at the Disney Concert Hall with the LA Philharmonic Orchestra and the Comedy Central Stage in Hollywood. Their work is an original blending of clown, mime, dance, commedia dell’Arte and vaudeville with an emphasis on poignant writing and heartfelt storytelling. TEN WEST is Jon Monastero and Stephen Simon, directed by Bryan Coffee. For more info visit here.

“Two agile and inventive clowns… as much Cirque du Soleil as it is Chaplin-esque, with a little commedia dell’arte thrown in…the show is over too soon. …their brand of cleverness should be seen firsthand.” – L.A. WEEKLY GO Pick!

“…all performed with flair and terrific, Saroyanesque charm…a perfectly matched team of clowns, anarchists, and pantomimists.” – Backstage West Critic’s Pick

“…raw, captivating physicality…I think it’s safe to say I was unequivocally mesmerized the entire length of the show.” – TimeOut Chicago Magazine

“…evidence that wholesome comedy still has the potential to be both relevant and overwhelmingly well-received.” –

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari with live musical score by Tom Peters.

Tom Peters is a very active composer and performer based in Los Angeles. Tom specializes in creating music for silent films, performing original scores through looping electronics and synchronized electronic soundscapes. In April 2013, he premiered his original score to the 1927 silent classic The Passion of Joan of Arc—his ninth film—at the Toronto Silent Film Festival with Joelle Morton on tenor viol. The score was featured in a radio broadcast over the CBC. He also wrote music for the John Pennington Dance Group’s Yield of Vision, and Parson’s Nose Productions’ presentations of Everyman, and Cendrillon. He has performed as a soloist with Ensemble Oh-Ton, People Inside Electronics, MicroFest, and the Schindler House and many others, and has been featured on Nordwest Radio in Hamburg, Germany. Tom has performed with GRAMMY-winning Southwest Chamber Music since 1998. His recording of John Cage’s 26’ 1.1499” for a String Player on the Tiger Barb Records label with KPFK’s John Schneider was the first American recording of this seminal work. Tom is on the faculty of the Bob Cole Conservatory of Music at the California State University, Long Beach, and has been a member of the Long Beach Symphony since 1993.

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (German: Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari) is a 1920 German silent horror film directed by Robert Wienefrom a screenplay by Hans Janowitz and Carl Mayer. It is one of the most influential of German Expressionist films and is often considered being one of the greatest horror movies of the silent era in film. The film used stylized sets, with abstract, jagged buildings painted on canvas backdrops and flats. To add to this strange style, the actors used an unrealistic technique that exhibited “jerky” and dance-like movements. This movie is cited as having introduced the twist ending in cinema.

Mat Plendl
An amazing thing happens when Mat Plendl takes the stage, for he displays an artistry no other person can match. His instrument of expression is a hula hoop…and he’s taken it light years from its humble beginnings into the world of performance art. Combining elements of mime, dance, musical comedy and virtuoso technical skill, he’s created a theatrical showcase that’s won world-wide attention and acclaim. Mat became the U.S. National Hula Hoop Champion at age 13 on “The Dinah Shore Show”, and made his professional debut at 24 on “The Tonight Show” Starring Johnny Carson. Soon he became known as “The World’s Greatest Hula Hoop Artist”, and went on to a successful career in commercials, TV comedy and variety shows, cartoon voice-overs, and NBA half time and special events of all kinds. Mat has been one of the stars of the famous SF/Seattle dinner circus Teatro ZinZanni since 2002. In 2010 Mat headlined a week-long Halloween celebration at the world-famous Hollywood Magic Castle as the creator and star of The Mr. Dead Show, and this year he was guest star of the Fabulous Palm Springs Follies for their entire 22nd season. Look for Mat on Facebook and YouTube. For more information, please visit here.

Jason Rodgers
Jason Rodgers has been performing professionally since the age of 10. He has danced in projects with Donald O’Connor, Eddie Brown, Fayard Nicholas, Jerry Lewis, George C. Wolfe and Debbie Allen. Jason’s performance credits include the Academy Awards, the North American tour of the Broadway musical “Bring In Da Noise, Bring In Da Funk”, the Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon, and the European tour of Jérôme Savary’s “Looking For Josephine”. Recently, Jason appeared as the lead role in the French film Toutes Les Nuits by Clémentine Célarié, is featured in the new dance series DS2DIO from Jon M. Chu (director of Justin Bieber: Never Say Never, Step Up 3D, G.I. Joe Retaliation), and performed on ABC’s “Dancing With The Stars”. He’s been featured in ads for Levi’s, Hummer, Verizon, Gatorade, and The Disney Channel. Jason teaches tap and performs at different venues, conventions, workshops, & festivals which have included The New Orleans Jazz Heritage Festival, The Montpellier SwingJammerz Festival, and the world renowned Herräng Dance Camp in Sweden. Jason is currently spreading his love, knowledge, and experience of song & (tap) dance throughout the world.




Pauline Adamek

Pauline Adamek is a Los Angeles-based arts enthusiast with twenty-five years' experience covering International Film Festivals and reviewing new Theatre, Film and Restaurants.


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