On the eve of the first performance, a pivotal act is cut and the performers sent packing. Tensions are running high. Making matters worse, a seasoned company regular has been diagnosed with cancer and will drop out of the show. Lackluster ticket sales are not helping the situation. The next stop is New York City and as the trailers hit the road again, everyone knows what's at stake.
ANNOUNCER: Previously on Circus:
It can't be "Ba..."
It has to be "Ba!"
Things are lacking that I just
talked to him about.
GLEN: I honestly thought my whole gig
here would be gone.
STEVE: Today was a rough day, technically.
Today was a mess.
The show is not at a place
that I wish it were at this point.
HARMONY: I don't know if they're
the types who would take us out of the show.
I know some circuses would.
♫So here we are♫
♫It's like we never really left the start♫
♫Time heals the wound, but then there's still a scar♫
♫To remind us of the way it's meant to be♫
♫Oh, sing a song♫
♫A melody for what has come and gone♫
♫Try to convince the choir to sing along♫
♫Here's to tomorrow or whatever gets you by♫
♫Oh, la, la, la♫
♫La, la, la, la, la, la, la♫
♫La, la, la♫
♫La, la, la, la, la, la, la♫
♫La, la, la♫
♫La, la, la, la, la, la, la, la.♫
MAN 1: We're traveling to Virginia six to seven hours.
MAN 2: When we go to different places, that's kinda cool.
You say you're from the circus; they love you.
And of course you exaggerate;
you say you're a performer, and you know you're not.
The new name of the show: "Change On."
PAUL: We do know that we're gonna be going through a whole lot
of changes and we have a very short period of time to do it.
Last year we got to Virginia,
they changed the whole show on us.
STEVE: Someday... when this show grows up,
it will be a circus.
MAN (over bullhorn): By chance, could you, uh,
help me out with those campers?
GUILLAUME: We're in Dulles, Virginia, which is
the first stop of the tour.
♫Mother, I've got a ways to go♫
♫I'm high above the patchwork of Ohio...♫
MAN: One, two, three, hup!
♫I should be there within an hour or so♫
♫But at the rate I'm going...♫
SMILEY: Tara, Ty and Kate came in towards the end of all this.
Their first experience was load-out and load-in,
so that's pretty, like, intense for new people
off the bat, you know?
WOMAN: My first day, as soon as I came outside,
they were like that!
There's only so many girls,
you know, so all these guys are...
They're like animals.
The guys just go like wolves and run all over the girls.
Giving me the eyes, those little puppy eyes
that they be looking at you.
They're gonna be nice to them.
Some of are gonna try and get 'em drunk.
Some gonna, you know, just be always there.
And the guys would come up and be, like,
"Oh, let me watch you, ma. Let me watch you.
Let me help you. Let me help you."
And they'll put their hands like this and everything,
trying to get any excuse they can just to touch me.
And I'm like, "God, you're pathetic."
♫And I feel like I don't remember♫
♫And I search for you in the battlements below♫
SMILEY: It's hard, it's tough, it's rough.
You get tired. You want to quit.
Then the next day comes, and then you got a long day.
You're ready to quit, quit, quit; you're tired.
And then you look,
and the whole tent is done,
and then you kinda feel, like, satisfied;
like, "Yeah, I freaking did this."
KRISTEN: Walden was interesting.
We weren't sure if we were gonna have a job,
but the last day we got our act together. (laughs)
My name is Kristen Finlay.
I'm from Los Angeles.
My name is Harmony French.
I am Josuber Neves.
My name is Monica Neves.
I'm Elizabeth. I'm the fourth flyer
of the flying trapeze troupe the Neves.
THOMAS: They came in this morning, we set up their net,
and they told us to "Hold off, guys."
They told us that the flying act would be getting cut,
but to not tell nobody.
ELIZABETH: I wonder what it would take to get,
like, 40 seats reserved for my kids
at Dance Factory to come see us in New York.
Discounted tickets or something? Yeah.
SMILEY: When the flying act got fired, it got around
before they knew about it.
ELIZABETH: I drove down here last night, and then
woke up and got fired.
KRISTEN: I've never been fired from anywhere.
My first feeling was
embarrassment, like, "Oh, my gosh."
The last time we did the act was in Walden,
so, like, why am I in Virginia if they don't like the act?
STEVE: We probably should have made this decision sooner,
but I think the only way to proceed
in a humane way is to allow people the time they request
to prove their worth.
Uh, and in this case, it just didn't come together.
GUILLAUME: Josuber had never been really a catch.
I thought he had experience as a catcher,
and he had very, very little.
The catcher in a flying trapeze act
plays a more important role
than it looks like to the uneducated eye.
There was no way
they were gonna catch the triple anytime soon.
'Cause of the triple or...?
I have no... We don't know.
It just sucks, though.
They were, like, the coolest performers we have here.
The next people that come are
gonna probably be (bleep) kids, you know?
SMILEY: They weren't, like, divas.
They weren't superstars.
They acted like regular people.
They were down to earth.
They were great.
And we're gonna miss 'em.
STEVE: I have to, as a director, say,
what is the best for the show as a whole.
As painful as it is, and as hard as it will be
to say good-bye to these folks.
ELIZABETH: I feel so sad.
Like, I just feel like,
"What could I have done differently," you know?
KRISTEN: She had just told her students
and her friends and family
that she was with the Big Apple Circus,
and they could all come see her, so she was pretty devastated.
Me watching you fly, you inspire me,
and I'm serious, you know?
HARMONY: Kristen put a lot of work in;
she helped the ring crew on numerous occasions.
She's just a great person, really.
And she was appreciated by everyone who was here.
The thing that I felt some anger about was
that I didn't know that he was a new catcher.
The Neves did not inform me of that fact.
I don't think that that was fair.
Yeah. KRISTEN: I understand it from a business perspective...
I'll see you down the road. Yeah.
...but that's not
what the circus is about; the circus is about family.
We're leaving now. Now?
SARAH: We're all here for a season, and then people
go away, but you know you will see them again
in another place, in another cabaret or in another circus.
So the whole circus world, yeah, this is a community,
if you want, you know?
But family is something else.
STEVE: Just hang out for a minute.
We're gonna get some notes,
and then we'll know what to tell you about the schedule
for the rest of today and tonight, okay?
PAUL: Have we ever replaced a major act
in a show the night before
we open our season?
No, we never have.
This is the first time this has ever happened.
We now have to make a whole series of changes
and have them ready for tomorrow night.
You know where they're coming from?
And what's the name of them?
Do we have a name?
The Flying Cortes.
We got to learn all the rigging and...
it's gonna be a very long night again.
Once they do get here, doesn't it make more sense to have
a private session with them Yeah.
to bring them up to speed with the production numbers?
It's gonna be a big day.
If I had any more hair, it would fall out.
PAUL: The Flying Cortes arrived at 2:30 in the morning.
And they came in to start rigging.
And they're rigging now.
I am Robinson Cortes of the Flying Cortes.
I'm the fourth generation in circus.
I am the catcher.
I was born in Colombia, South America.
I have my wife Alida.
My name is Alida Wallenda Cortes.
My family, the Wallendas,
has been in circus
for over 200 years.
ROBINSON: Alex, my brother.
My name is Alexander Cortes.
I started flying,
I believe I was about five and a half.
ROBINSON: And Chrystie, his partner.
My name is Chrystie Toth,
and I'm from Port Jefferson, New York.
You said four, right?
I started working with the Cortes about two years ago.
MARK: Alex is one of the best flyers out there.
He pulls a triple like it's... like it's nothing.
He's just beautiful to watch.
Hold on... slide it...
PAUL: I do know that Guillaume asked them very specifically
what tricks they're doing now,
and clearly, they are bringing
a very strong professional act.
MARK: Isabella is Robinson's little girl.
And she's a little spitfire.
She's really smart.
Circus kids, in general, are smarter than us.
ALIDA: Isabella's performing.
She made that decision this summer
and started working in the act.
This is a tradition that we... we do.
She does the flying trapeze whenever she has a chance.
She goes on the high wire, too.
ALIDA: And then we came over here.
The Big Apple Circus said
that there's some sort of child labor laws or something
in New York State...
so Isabella would not be able to perform with us.
One and two,
three and four...
GIRL: ...um, there's these guys,
they're all women, except for the one boy
who is a catcher.
They did really cool tricks.
There's two boys
and two girls now, but there were
three girls and two boys.
What happened to the other girl?
Oh. My bad.
Sweep up... and it's a trumpet.
GIRL: The girl with the blue...
Chrystie. Not my mom.
GIRL: I know your mom.
Her. I know.
Don't point at somebody-- it's rude.
It's my mom.
Still, it's rude.
STEVE: Well, here we are in Dulles, Virginia,
and it's our opening night.
The weather's a little gloomy.
(chuckling): I hope that's not a sign.
That's gonna be up in the blue seats.
how many people are we expecting today,
do we have any idea?
It's a small house. Small crowd, okay.
(beep) There you go.
Next in line with tickets, please.
I wonder if it's good luck if it rains
on the first show of a circus.
We've had a, uh, what I call a smash-and-dash rehearsal today.
Tried to include our new flying act, the Cortes,
into all of the choreography.
Okay, that's a lie.
We included them in some of the choreography.
It's a work in progress.
(low, indistinct conversation)
CHRYSTIE: There is adrenaline.
Every show, you get the butterflies, you get nervous.
The way the Neves had to leave was because
they weren't performing
up to the level that they wanted, so...
Yeah, there's pressure.
STEVE: Yeah, Chrystie!
ALIDA: It's a little difficult for me to do flying trapeze,
and I have this strange fear, which people don't understand.
I grew up in a high-wire family.
We grew up walking a cable.
You hold the pole.
You don't let anything go.
You stay on top; you don't drop.
Flying trapeze is absolutely the opposite.
You have to go swinging and fling your body
and throw the bar and drop.
And even though I have that net underneath me,
there's still that little voice in my head
that tells me every time, I shouldn't be doing this,
this is not the right feeling.
I have a little problem doing things in the flying act,
but I try.
ROBINSON: It took me four months to become
not a good catcher, just to catch
Now, after six years,
I can say it takes that long to be confident to say
anybody can fly to your hands.
The first couple of weeks, it was scary.
When you're a flyer and you become a catcher,
it's hard, because you're seeing that body coming at you.
It's like a fight.
Every part of your body starts to be stiff.
When I grab that wrist,
and then you got to let him down,
like somebody will attach 140 pounds to your wrist,
and they just drop it.
And that's doing the tricks.
I used to do the triple.
Now my brother does the triple.
ALEX: I have a short time span as an aerialist.
What I do is very difficult,
and it's very hard on the body.
I'm 32 right now, so, if I'm lucky,
I have a good ten years ahead of me--
if I'm lucky-- to still be good
and to perform at a top level.
Come on, Alex. Come on, Alex.
(applause, cheering, whooping)
ALEX: Can I do four?
Do I do four?
No, I don't do it.
But I can.
STEVE: We won the lottery with the Cortes.
Um, Alex is a supreme flyer.
Uh, his triple, he nails
almost every time.
It's an extraordinarily difficult trick.
These folks have become
our finale act, as was always expected,
and it really is the exclamation point on our show.
My name is Tara.
I'm from New York.
I want to see the world before I die.
And I don't know if I'm gonna die
in 50 years or 50 days,
so I have a lot of living to do.
My first day, when Rachel was checking me into my room,
and she was, like, "Just be careful.
"Keep your eyes open, 'cause a lot
of the guys here, they act like they're in jail."
But as soon as
my two friends, Kay and Tat, came in,
they didn't even notice me no more.
THOMAS: They all came here and said
they were lesbians. (chuckles)
You say and do what you have to do to get by, you know?
Half the chicks on Sleeper Row now are lesbians.
Angry Joe came up to me.
I like Joe; I think that Joe is a very nice man.
But then he's, like, "Yo,
are you guys lesbians?" and I was like...
TARA: And I was like,
"We have a lesbian tryst."
And Kay started going around telling everybody
that we have a lesbian tryst.
There are lesbian rumors about me.
And talk about our feelings!
That's what I love about you guys.
My name is Kaya Gladden.
I am the novelties wagon master.
That is my official title.
I sell toys, novelties.
It's-it's like, it's like retail, pretty much.
There may be a couple of people who have caught my eye,
but I will never act upon it.
I see these people every day.
Like, how on earth would that even work out?
Like, I only get one day off-- what am I supposed to do,
have a Sleeper Row boyfriend on Mondays only?
How did you get this way?
How did I get this way?
I put makeup on.
Look at the cameras. It's a profession.
My name is Barry Lubin, and I play the character of Grandma
here at the Big Apple Circus.
MARK: So, this is really hard for me to talk about.
Barry just found out he has cancer.
So it's in his neck.
When the doctor asked me to come in,
the way that they told me to come into the office,
um, she said, "You probably have cancer."
It just hit me like a ton of bricks.
(electric guitar playing rock)
(loud pop, music stops)
MARK: For me, it brings up different kind of emotions
because my dad passed away
from cancer, as well; he had it in his esophagus,
and never saw me do this stuff.
It's funny, 'cause my dad and Barry,
(chuckles): they were nothing alike, uh,
but with Barry watching me,
my dad was watching me, anyway.
(wailing electric guitar solo)
It's such a serious life issue
confronting him at the height of his career.
It's probably giving him a level of reevaluation
of what's happened in his life.
I love you. You're fantastic.
You've brought so much joy.
I think it's a three- or four-hour, uh, surgery.
MARK: 'Cause there's a lot of...
Take care of yourself.
You'll know. I'll let you know.
Yeah, yeah, no-- I'll talk to you.
I'll talk to you tomorrow.
MARK: And I think now that he's able to step out of the show
for a little while and reflect on it, you know,
I think he's dealing with real human emotions
that I think anybody would go through.
Stay healthy. Good idea.
Everybody. You, too.
WOMAN: How do you turn the lights on?
STEVE: It reminds us all that there's a life
that's much bigger than circus.
ALIDA: It's not just this romanticized,
you know, "Oh, wow,"
that's great to be up there in lights and sparkling.
We have real lives.
I definitely say the circus is not in the tent.
It's everything that goes on behind the scenes.
My name is Marty LaSalle.
My name is Jake LaSalle.
MARTY: We never didn't work together.
We started juggling 13 years ago.
Our act has been a decade in development.
For a few years, I was at the gym seven hours a day.
MARTY: Sometimes you go out and you perform
and it's just totally adrenaline.
Your muscles have kicked in. Your mind stops.
And you're just going.
You know, you're just going through the motions.
You can't think about anything.
You get offstage, it was almost a blur.
JAKE: It's funny because, on a technical level,
we're sort of converging,
but in all other aspects of our lives,
I think we're diverging.
Just hold them sideways.
Just do it. We can hold one.
I just want to--
One is fine. One is plenty.
JAKE: Right now, my brother and I are disagreeing
on how much we need to practice
to not only maintain our performance,
but be able to continually improve at a healthy level.
Okay. I need to get my arms higher.
It's okay, it's okay, it's okay.
MARTY: I love this
and I love performing at a level where,
um, you know, I feel confident in what I'm doing.
In circus, I think that there's a confident persona
that you can present.
Not cocky, but just kind--
you know, that would be really difficult for me to do
if I didn't feel like I had skills.
JAKE: I feel like I could do this act in my sleep.
I feel like I could wake up out of bed,
and as long as my body was warm,
I feel like I could go out and do a perfect run-through.
Marty doesn't feel that way.
He feels like we need to do
minimum, everything ten times.
I think that we could be better
than we're going to be this year.
My brother's just not into improving.
JAKE: I've been in my brother's position.
And I remember being there.
and because there's not really anything he can do,
he is responding with anger.
MARTY: It has been a hard decision to kind of, uh...
I mean, really just in the last, you know, few months
to kind of make the decision to--
you know, to discontinue
our-our professional relationship.
He wants to go to medical school next year,
and he's kind of moved on to the next thing.
JAKE: There was a moment where I was thinking,
"Okay, maybe I could do this for the rest of my life,"
but it was never complete.
There was always that part of me
that knew that I would pursue a career
in the health professions eventually.
I can't hear what you're saying.
Wait until I get closer to you to throw them.
MARTY: In the last year,
I have learned more about working with people
and more about relationships, than, like,
I ever even knew that there was to learn.
I mean, in a lot of ways,
I feel like I'm going through a divorce.
Your left hand is angled in.
MARTY: You invest so much of your life into a relationship,
and when that's removed...
When that relationship crumbles,
I mean, in a lot of ways,
it is dead. You know, something is dying.
You know, of expectation,
or of-of just of-of, um, your identity.
In this business, you have to work together.
You have to live together.
You know, you have to do everything together.
So I hope that we can figure out
a way to manage the conflicts
and, you know, just leave it at that.
It's not gonna be the best in the world,
and it's not gonna be the best that we can do,
but I mean, we should still be able to have a blast doing it,
so I'm hoping that we can, you know, at least get to that,
you know, before too long.
'Cause if not, it's gonna be a long year.
It's gonna be a long year.
(band playing jaunty melody)
(crowd clapping along)
I'm about to go get my laundry.
I throw it in before Act One.
If I can do it while the show is on,
I don't think anybody else does it then.
During intermission, I put it in the dryer.
And it should be done by now.
How's everything been going?
I really can't complain.
Now I get to throw it on my bed.
Which I call "nature's iron."
Getting to know the show by the soundtrack.
I know just about how much time I have in between things.
The show went okay tonight.
I'm trying to breathe.
Last night, every time I went to do something,
I heard the director say, "Try-- Don't do that."
Or I heard Barry, in my head, say, "Don't do that."
And, uh, "Urgency, urgency."
So, I found myself not breathing
and just not living in the moment.
And tonight, I think I lived in the moment a little more.
So, if I could just do that a little more,
we'll be ready for Lincoln Center.
And this is my soundtrack that says I have to go back.
TARA: In the past,
I have never allowed myself to fall for someone.
I was a very naive, very gullible kid.
I could never see people for who they really were.
And so, um,
I would get pushed around and treated like a dog
or a new piece of entertainment.
WOMAN: When a woman comes in,
they have dibs on the women who come in,
like, who's gonna get this one and who's gonna...?
When Tara came in,
as soon as she walked in and we hired her,
people were hanging at the office, so I knew.
I was like, "Oh, my God. Now, go, get away."
He's too busy eating something.
(Thomas growling playfully)
Usually, when I see sparks,
I kill 'em.
And I stay as far, far, far away as I can.
THOMAS: My name is Thomas DeKoto.
I'm the prop master, and I'm 22 years old.
It's nothing that I pressured, rushed up on her, or...
It's just whatever happens happens.
TARA: Tommy doesn't have to do anything.
He can just walk around or sit down.
And I'll enjoy being next to him.
I won't be able to keep my hands off of him.
'Cause I like the way his skin feels.
And I don't know why.
I want him so bad, Ann.
TARA: I like hearing his voice.
I like watching him talk.
I won't move anywhere else
because I want to be next to him.
I've never, ever wanted that with anybody else.
THOMAS: She's not ever used to really being in relationships.
This is, like, her first relationship
she's really ever had.
She's 20 years old.
WOMAN: Tara has to have tough skin because, you know,
Tommy won out.
I mean, Tommy won.
I don't know how.
But Tommy won.
MAN: Tommy has really good lines
when new girls come to the lot.
Let me tell you, the boy's slick.
I think that Tommy feels the same way about me
that I feel about him.
And I hope I'm right.
'Cause usually I'm not.
Look what I got for you.
Check this out. Oh, yeah.
Oh, yeah, that's a good boy.
Everybody sees this horse and says
they want to bring him home.
But he's like any other horse, he's just a little smaller.
He kicks and he bites.
Bjorn, come in!
MAN: Wow, he really goes for him.
We're heading to Overlook Hospital,
where I'm going to receive a radioactive pill.
And they'll do a scan.
And I'm actually much more nervous about the scan
than I am about, uh, taking this radioactive pill.
I've developed claustrophobia,
which is interesting for somebody who used to appear
in a car filled with 14 clowns
when I was on Ringling Brothers.
So I'm a claustrophobic human.
This machine is not gonna touch you, of course.
Mm-hmm. But it's gonna be
a little bit closer.
BARRY: They say, when you're on your deathbed,
will you regret not having gone into the office more often?
Usually the answer to that is no.
But years and years ago,
when I was thinking about leaving the Big Apple Circus,
my daughter Danielle said to me, when she was very young,
"But you can't leave because people want to see Grandma."
Which really hit me very hard.
I used to think that the two hours
that the circus was on, I was
not really living real life.
But that is my real life during that time.
It's not like I'm putting my life on hold.
And I-I so love what I do, and it seems to be
what I was put on this earth to do...
so I don't feel like I'm going to the office,
I feel like it's a very important part of my life.
Before I perform every show, I pray.
And essentially what I'm praying for is to be of service
and to be grateful and humble
and, uh, to go out there and be doing it in faith.
Meaning, hand it over.
It's something that I paid no attention to
early in my career.
But my feeling is that when I walk into that ring,
there is something very spiritual that happens.
When you really are giving
and it's really coming from your heart,
it comes back to you in very serious ways.
Do you like what you see?
Are you happy with...
Yeah, I like very much what I see.
Very little there. Very little. Okay.
But I-I may see more tomorrow.
It's very immature, I know.
OLIVIER: My name is Olivier Taquin.
I'm from Belgium.
I am guest artist, and I'm pantomime.
I do a comedy act.
This is 20 years that I'm doing this act now.
(audience chattering, gasping)
This is the question people are asking me:
It's not boring for you doing the same thing so long?
I say, you know, it's also my job.
And I still enjoy it.
(dramatic music playing)
In this act, it is only ten minute.
But every second, I know exactly what I'm doing
and why I'm doing this.
Everything is studied, you know, for this.
It's short, but it's very intense.
The show could be much better.
The show is good.
The show could be much better.
The theme is music,
but I don't see the theme so well in the show.
For me, it's just, you know, one act
after one act.
(electric guitar playing as Sarah plucks wire)
Only Sarah is using the theme.
She used the wire to do notes, so this fits very well.
PAUL: There still is that little sag,
and it's in the second half. STEVE: In the second half, yeah.
I think it's an action sag.
I think it's just a little too long.
STEVE: Today is my seventh week.
That's the longest I have ever stayed with the show.
Yeah, but the question is what's easy for her.
I don't even know...
STEVE: We all feel that we need
extra time to the do the buff and polish notes
that we've never had a chance to do.
We want this to be the best possible show it can be
going into New York City.
I don't want to do it anymore.
Cut, cut, cut this every day.
And then there's no more fun.
You know? Well, okay.
Yes, I know you're done.
But if I were you, I would not
allow him to make the choice.
He might pick something that you want to keep in,
and then you're losing the battle.
I don't, I don't care anymore.
Well, well, I would care.
Here's what I think.
I don't want a confrontation.
I don't want a...
big row with him.
You need the time... It's my energy
and my personal pleasure that I can't give anymore.
It's not there.
This... you know?
STEVE: I know you're fed up,
and I don't-- Hello.
Here's where we are.
What we all really need to clearly understand is
what in the second part
of the act...
PAUL: We are this close to making this
a big triumph act, right?
I mean, the audience really is focused in and so on.
But something happens in the middle.
It's only a-- it's a sense
that there's a sag in the energy.
SARAH: I think I know which moment you mean.
It's a moment that I didn't fill out yet.
Okay, well-- yeah.
And... I can fill it out better.
And I can practice. What do you mean, fill it out?
You mean, fill it out with move...
Yeah, with better movements.
(talking quietly in French)
SARAH: I still have to work on my act.
So... I'm working with Olivier Taquin.
He's helping me.
Hmm? OLIVIER: Sarah is
a very good technician.
And, uh, me, of course,
I'm not a collaborist,
but I have, uh, my pantomime act,
the eyes-- and the eyes from comedy.
And just (exhales) breathe.
SARAH: It's now, it's asking much more
to try to find your movements or make them better.
And somebody's telling you to breathe and...
(Olivier humming a cadence)
Okay, and then-- smaller now.
I continue a little bit and I'll do it again.
SARAH: Because you don't see yourself,
you can work with a camera.
But then, especially, Olivier is very,
is a very creative person, and he has a good eye.
Nice. All right.
No, it's-- no, Olivier.
The head, I don't think, huh.
Sometimes Olivier's asking for things on the wire
that seem impossible for me.
SARAH: But mostly it's great,
it's great working with Olivier.
(Olivier speaking French)
OLIVIER: It's nice when you can be a good acrobat
but also when you can put it with comedy and give emotion.
Technique is important.
I mean, if you are only technique,
technique is... finally is a bit boring.
What the people like to see is emotion.
I'm very happy that she was open to listening to me
and, uh, and now I feel that she trusts in me
and, uh, is getting better and better
and can hear the public also, reacting more.
So, we-we give, uh, each-each other inspiration,
and, uh, it's nice. Yeah.
BARRY: I was given a body scan,
which indicated things were going
in a very positive way,
that there was no sign of any cancer in my body.
Ladies and gentlemen, Grandma.
(man in audience whoops)
I have to continue to be monitored for a while,
and, hopefully, no signs of the disease,
you know, for the rest of my life.
Grandma, I'm introducing the show.
Please keep your thyroid in the box.
My personal soundtrack includes
(music box playing)
STEVE: Oh, Lord.
(Paul guffawing, everyone laughing)
BARRY: It was heaven on earth to get back with my friends,
and I got this tremendous warmth.
And... you know,
the circus is a very social life.
And, uh, I've been around for a while
and people seemed to care and that felt great.
♫I see a little silhouetto of a man♫
♫Scaramouche, Scaramouche, will you do the Fandango?♫
We were doing "Bohemian Rhapsody,"
and we felt that it wasn't getting much from the audience.
They would kind of look at us.
♫Let him go-o-o...♫
♫No, no, no, no, no, no, no.♫
But it wasn't working.
It was getting no laughs.
It was just kind of... there.
And Mark and I threw around a lot of ideas,
one of which was...
Gene Kelly, "Singin' in the Rain."
All Mark had to do was channel Gene Kelly.
♫I'm singin' in the rain♫
♫Just singin' in the rain♫
I think Mark is a fantastic dancer.
It allows me to step back
and give the stage to Mark,
and yet they're really nice moments for me.
♫Let the stormy clouds chase...♫
He's such a great partner to work with,
so for me to be in the rain with Mark,
it's just a pleasure.
♫Come on with the rain♫
♫I've a smile on my face♫
When I left the show to get my operation,
Mark and I communicated constantly.
I asked him to shop it,
meaning get the Gene Kelly look,
find the right umbrella.
And we decided that
we're gonna start getting this thing on its feet.
Cross to that point, and then...
And the thing came together,
so we were actually able to put it in front
of the production team.
♫Let the stormy clouds chase♫
♫Everyone from the place♫
♫Come on with the rain♫
♫I've a smile on my face...♫
We knew that it wasn't right at that moment, but we knew
that we had something that was kind of neat.
STEVE: As much as I really love "Bohemian Rhapsody,"
now, this new piece is, um, fantastic on many levels.
It's an iconic piece, it's sweet,
it's lovely, and it can keep the dancing
in its purest form, as opposed to the clown form.
PAUL: Oh, yeah.
The contrast is... Don't goof up.
...so, so great.
It really is a beautiful thing.
Thank you for working so hard
to get it in for tonight's show.
♫Doo, doo-doo, doo, doo-doo doo-doo, doo, doo-doo, dah♫
BARRY: It's a piece that plays for a lot of different people
on a lot of different levels, and at the very least,
it's an excuse to spit water, which people seem to like.
♫I'm happy again...♫ (laughter)
When I walk up to the audience with this cup of water,
which they're going to have to throw in Mark's face
to get a nice laugh, I say, "Throw this water in his face,
but wait till I point at you, okay?"
♫Let the stormy clouds chase♫
♫Everyone from the place♫
♫Come on with the rain♫
(laughter) ♫I've a smile on my face♫
♫I walk down the lane♫
♫With a happy refrain♫
♫Just singin', singin' in the rain♫
♫And singin' in the rain.♫
(fake crying) Very nice. And again.
Little teeny-tiny kid.
Oh, yeah? Look at you.
Paul loves this.
He was talking my ear off about it.
He's like, "I cannot believe Mark didn't train to do this."
Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.
SARAH: We're doing 370 shows a year.
Yeah, my legs are killing me tonight.
I've been working pretty hard.
I'm practicing my wire act in between the shows,
and in the morning before the shows,
I practice with the horses.
And then the two shows, and so,
now I'm tired.
(applause and cheering)
MARK: It's a nice audience for
a small one.
STEVE: Here we are on the 29th of September, 2008.
The Dow Jones dropped 777 points today.
Money is tight.
PAUL: We have fallen off
from previous years.
Although, going all the way back
to the Depression, circus was a good business to be in.
I think people do seek out ways to entertain themselves
and feel good about themselves.
Well, that's our business.
We are merchants of good humor, if you will.
And, hopefully, that will bear us through the season.
(music plays, child squeals)
Yeah, we're nervous about our business.
GUILLAUME: We have survived 9/11.
We have survived previous bad times, but, uh,
there would be a point where survival would be in question.
My name is Guillaume Defresnoy.
I am general manager of the circus.
We're a non-for-profit organization.
We probably earn 65 or 70% of our budget.
And if that's not there,
it can become catastrophic fairly rapidly, actually.
(grunting with effort)
WOMAN: Come on! Come on!
STEVE: It's crucial that the show does well in New York,
because it's the hometown team.
And it has a built-in audience that have come year after year
with high expectation.
And so we have to deliver the goods,
not just an okay show.
We have to deliver a great show.
TARA: Lincoln Center is
where we make all the money.
GUILLAUME: We're at Lincoln Center
for three months out of the year,
and it's the crown jewel or our markets.
And everything is behind, there's no doubt.
SMILEY: It's a six-hour drive,
and we still have to probably wake up
at 8:00 in the morning to work the next day, so,
the sooner we get there, the better.
♫These little town blues♫
♫Are melting away♫
♫I'll make a brand-new start of it♫
♫In old New York♫
♫If I can make it there♫
♫I'll make it anywhere♫
♫Come on, come through♫
♫Old New York♫
♫Ba, ba, ba-da, da, ba, ba, ba-da, da♫
♫Ba, ba, ba-da, da, dah.♫
ANNOUNCER: Next on Circus...
PAUL: I'm stepping out as artistic director.
I'm stepping out of the ring.
GUILLAUME: There's nothing scarier.
PAUL: Is he me? Oh, no, he's not me.
We're hoping we can get him through it.
They took him to the hospital and everything, but they said
there was nothing that they could do.
HEIDI: Welcome back to the circus, yo.
This is the wife of the bomb threat.
♫Maybe something special's on the way♫
♫What's all this about?♫
ANNOUNCER: Want to see more of your favorite characters
and performances from Circus?
Come one, come all to PBS.org.
♫I'll find a way back to you♫
Circus is available on Blu-ray and DVD.
To order, visit us online at shopPBS.org
or call PBS home video,
♫Let's get everybody on their feet♫
♫Let's get everybody, yeah♫
♫Let's get everybody, yeah♫
♫Let's get everybody, come on, get everybody.♫
♫Let's get everybody, come on, get everybody.♫