Growing up, I was obsessed with the circus. Not enough to run off and join one mind you (thrilling as it seemed, I craved indoor plumbing), but ever since I was chosen as the audience princess by the ringmaster of Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey Circus at Madison Square Garden when I was eight, I’ve had a thing for clowns and sequins. Although the outrageously glamorous folks behind Seattle’s Gothic-grungy outfit Circus Contraption may not be as innocent as the Ringling crew, they’re every bit as awe inspiring, boasting amazing acrobatics, dirty comic antics, oodles of barely covered skin and a super Spike Jonze-meets-Squirrel-Nut-Zippers-like band. Last year, I caught the troupe’s East Coast debut, Circus Contraption’s Grand American Traveling Dime Museum, a fantastical tribute to early 20th-century entertainments like animatronic fortune tellers, racy sepia-toned postcards and nickelodeons. This summer, the circus comes back to town for an encore of their signature show (Theater for the New City, 155 First Ave, Augt 11-Sept 23). Leave the kids (and the grandparents, the NC-17 rated fun might induce heart attacks) at home and spend a hot evening with these sexy circus freaks.
Speaking of clowns and revivals, CREATION: A Clown Show, which was a huge hit at last year’s One Festival, returns for an off-Broadway run (Theater Five, 311 W 43rd St, Aug 4-Sept 10). A family-friendly solo work starring Lucas Caleb Rooney, the show is a hilariously silly take on Genesis. You know, the Bible, but with lots of magic, slapstick, humor and ukulele music, no preaching. If only religion were actually this engaging.
And yet another top-notch show making a return engagement, the extremely bloody punk-rock opera Titus X: The Musical (The Tank, at Collective Unconscious, 279 Church St, Thursdays through Aug 24), a slimmed-down, amped-up adaptation of Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus. Conceived by D.C.-based writer Shawn Northrip, who wrote the music, lyrics and plays in the band (he’s the adorkable one with the glasses), the show is gleefully offensive, head-banging fun, featuring war, cannibalism, and a lovely ballad sung by a raped-and-maimed tongueless waif (one of my favorite sick jokes of all time). Plus the guy who plays Titus, Peter Schuyler, is insanely hot in a Rob Halford-from-Judas Priest sort of way. He’s got a kick-ass voice, and he looks like he can kick ass, too.