OCircus! Fall Show Delivers Stellar Performance

Adiel Kaplan, Staff Writer

As the lights dimmed, the low rumble of a didgeridoo announced the start of another acrobatic spectacle. Audience members at OCircus!’s “Special Collections: A Haunted Cabaret” oohed, ahhed and laughed throughout the show, guided between acts by Narcissus (College senior Sarp Yavuz), a flamboyant Greek statue come to life out of an old book left open in a forgotten corner of Mudd Library. The beginning of each act was announced by one long note from a didgeridoo played by a skeleton (College first-year Chris Bell).

This year’s show heavily featured tumbling and partner acrobatics, as well as some excellent clowning, glow poi, magic, contortion, hoop and burlesque.

It showcased a large variety of talent and more resembled a professional cabaret circus than random street performances, exhibiting a theatric quality and cohesiveness rarely seen in student circus productions. Music was thoughtfully woven throughout the show, featuring jazzy musical interludes performed by three-man band “The Elephant in the Room,” and some comedic bits between Yavuz and the piano player in addition to the didgeridoo.

Choreographers and performers did a great job bringing fresh takes to some traditional circus acts. The partner acrobatics performance by College junior Karellyn Holston and College sophomore Chris McLauchlan, titled “Corpse Bride,” put a twist on the familiar romantic partner act. As the didgeridoo sounded, McLauchlan appeared on stage, eagerly awaiting his bride, Holston. McLauchlan’s expression quickly changed to one of horror when he discovered she was undead and remained fixed throughout the act as Holston “compelled” him to do her bidding (which included some excellent tumbling and partner acrobatics).

The other partner acrobatics act — “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,” performed by College seniors Samantha Sterman and Julie Gaynes — was darker and more serious. It was the most technically advanced act in the show, and Gaynes and Sterman transitioned beautifully between moves, from over the head L-sits to low split levers.

“The Prestige,” an act led by College juniors Aaron Krupp and Alex Kapiamba, was perhaps one of the more innovative acts in the show. The act began as Krupp walked on stage with a single deck of cards and, speaking in an amusing accent (though it occasionally broke during some of the funnier moments), proceeded to perform card tricks while wearing a clown nose. Krupp left the stage as Kapiamba took over and, with the help of two assistants, made College junior Jessica Lam disappear from on top of a wooden bed. As Kapiamba went to make her reappear, instead he himself appeared on the bed and it was revealed that Krupp had taken his place (wearing the exact same outfit and mask), to gasps and delighted applause from the audience.

No circus show would be complete without some clowning, and “Special Collections” did not disappoint. Yavuz kept the audience entertained with verbal jabs poking fun at Oberlin, the audience and himself (though admittedly some of his humor was only funny to those who knew him personally, such as quips about his own Turkish nationality).

The highest quality clowning was in the “Dracula vs. Wolfman” act by College juniors Will Passannante, Genevieve Senechal and Peter D’Auria. Part physical comedy, part sketch comedy and part improv, it was all hilarious. From the get-go, D’Auria and Passannante played off each other with impeccable timing, taking the two tough, manly title characters and turning them into bookish wimps that duke it out through a rock paper scissors battle. Senechal’s scolding (and ultimately victorious) role further added to the hilarity of the skit.

Though all the acts were good, the crowd favorite was clearly the tumbling burlesque act featuring College senior Benjamin George-Hinnant and another appearance by Alex Kapaimba. To the tune of “Take Your Shirt Off” by T-Pain, George-Hinnant and Kapiamba tumbled and tricked their way around the stage and, yes, took their clothes off. Shirts were ripped off for dramatic effect (they were held together by velcro) as were boxers in the finale of the act, revealing sparkly gold booty shorts.

The ending seemed to come somewhat out of left field, as a previously unmentioned character appeared on stage and closed the book Yavuz’s character had climbed out of, then carried his limp body off stage — but on the whole, the OCircus! show was a huge hit. And as the didgeridoo rumbled for the last time, the audience rose up to demonstrate their approval.