If your life is a circus and you need an escape, try the real thing.
Billy Martin’s Cole All-Star CIrcus will be performing at the Cooperstown High School, on Monday, Oct. 28h at 7 pm. Hosted by the student council, the big top meets the school desk top once again, presenting an evening of fun and enjoyment among students, teachers and families in the high school gym.
Although there is no tent, the circus does not disappoint. The performers aim to delight and the thrills are all present in the intimate traveling show.
The cast of 16 packs plenty of fun into 90 minutes. The Bertini family wows with unicycle feats, Roger gets laughs with acrobats on a trampoline, while Franci and Clara awe with their hula hoop skills and aerial tricks, respectively. Billy Martin’s circus includes the Rinny family of jugglers from Argentina, and Sadrak, who performs cirque-style contortions also from South America. Jonathon brings Las Vegas glamour to his cylinder balance act, and Billy Martin’s wife, (”That’s right”, Martin confirms, “the ringmaster fell in love with the trapeze artist.”), Angela performs a single trapeze act that is a show stopper.
Finally, there is “Slinko”...about which, Martin enthuses, “You have to see it - can’t describe it.”
Billy Martin, is, of course, the Ringmaster, complete with the necessary magnetic personality and a golden microphone. “All these acts are my friends,” owner, Martin, elaborates, “I worked with them in bigger shows, then hand-picked them for this venue. I know what New York state audiences like.”
As Martin says, standing firmly behind his product, “I have the best job in the circus - I get to be in it and watch it every night!”
The Cole All-Star Circus boasts a 75-year-old history, rich with stories of helping school organizations raise money by entertaining the community and sharing the profits.
Born in Penn Yan, legendary showman James M. Cole was 11 years old when he started his show biz career as a “program boy” passing out playbills at the Smith Opera House in GenevaY. According to the circus’ web site, after joining the Walter L. Main Railroad Circus in 1924, Cole had an amazing career in show business spanning decades. He ended up managing many major touring circuses in addition to owning and operating his own big top show. After touring the nation with his famous performing elephants, it was clear Cole had become a circus legend.
What set Cole’s story apart from traditional circus lore, was the unique set-up of his own show. The Cole All-Star circus, founded in 1938, was developed as a school workshop project.
Initially, Cole provided the acts and the schools did the rest: art classes made posters, school bands provided music, and students served as stage hands. After the event, the circus shared the wealth with the school. The details have changed somewhat, but the concept remains the same. Now the circus provides a turnkey event, music, lighting, promotional materials, their own stage hands, but, at the end of it all, the school still shares in the proceeds.
Students 12 years and younger are admitted free with an adult admission. The host, offers advance sale adult tickets priced at $10 and shares in each ticket sold. Martin stresses, “We pride ourselves in offering an affordable family event and virtually risk-free fund-raiser.”
Current owner, Martin met Cole in 1972 in his hometown school in OleanY. Martin was 12 years old and Cole’s circus had a mesmerizing impact on him. His immediate fascination with the circus evolved into a wonderful friendship with Cole, so that by age 14, he began booking many schools for the circus throughout western New York.
The decision to join the Cole Circus after his graduation in 1977 was only logical. Martin performed a juggling/balancing act, served as ringmaster, and basically became Cole’s right hand man. In 1987, when 80-year-old Cole retired, Billy took over the show and remains at its helm today. Constantly on the road throughout New York state, and Pennsylvania, the persevering troupe performs seven days a week.
Changing the acts every year keeps the show fresh. “Every year is a new challenge,”, Martin says. “Every night is like opening night with this format. It’s always a different school, a different town, a different audience. It keeps us on our toes,” he explains.
Advance tickets can be purchased in the Cooperstown school office. Tickets at the door are $15.
For more information go to www.billymartincircus.com.