Something Wonderful: Circus Guild expands performance with opening night at WWU

by Brent Cole

This month, the Bellingham Circus Guild will have a performance like no other in their history. Something Wonderful, a show “about a boy who dreams of a magical adventure, through land and sea, filled with fantastic characters” will take things to a new level in performance and venue with opening night at the WWU Performing Arts Center.

The seeds for the performance were sown approximately a year ago when Chip Allard, a Circus Guild member and performer with the Inflammable Circus Sideshow, approached relative newcomer, Terril Teran. He inquired about a new production, one that would utilize her incredible treasure trove of costumes.

Teran, who moved to Bellingham two years ago from Los Angeles, had made a career working with circus performers through her company Bella Circo. Performers worked corporate functions to major events including Cirque du Soliel, Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey Circus, and with musicians such as Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, Snoop Dogg, Trent Reznor, P-Diddy and Mariah Carey. Their performers also appeared in featured films, music videos and commercials. Her experience with performers – and costumes – would kickstart the concept of Something Wonderful.

Teran, having spent time with family who lived in the Alger/Bow area during the 60s, had a lifelong dream of moving to the Northwest.

“I’ve wanted to live here since I was a little kid. It just kind of happened that my husband and I got to move out here,” she said, adding, “We were really sick of los Angeles.”

Now involved locally, Chip Allard brainstormed with Teran. “He had some ideas and we just kind of put our heads together,” Teran said. “We came up with more ideas together, it evolved little by little.”

The duo wanted to create a different type of performance than the wildly loved Vaudevillian shows the Guild is known for. “I wanted to make the show with Chip different.”

The primary difference was the performance would be more of a play, with the story being told through the circus performers.

Things began to take shape last summer, and by winter they found themselves facing an incredible opportunity; one that could take the performance to the next level, but incurring some losses. It was suggested by a mutual friend at Western that they host the performance in the Performing Arts Center as part of the 7th annual Back2Bellingham celebration weekend. As luck would have it, their planned opening night was the same night that Western wanted them. After all details were sorted and set, Something Wonderful would open at Western to the largest crowd the Circus Guild had encountered – a 1,000-seat center.

As part of this change, the Inflammable Circus Sideshow as well as a Saturday night performance had to be shelved. But, in exchange, the Guild had a world of new possibilities – different staging, lights, and more space for performances, and taller ceilings for more aerial theatrics. “We get to have fly rails with more elaborate sets,” added aerialist Heidi Sorgen. “There’s way more space, which is especially nice for the dance numbers.”

This change meant Teran the performer had to transform into Teran the production manager. Following the Guild’s Valentine’s Day Extravaganza in February, the 14 performers and approximately 12 or production crew members  have been working tirelessly to perfect their acts and costume changes (some of which have five) while finalizing the production.

“People have been busting the booties since mid-March,” stated Teran with a laugh, adding, “Chip has been making amazing props including a pirate ship.”

The performance includes some live music featuring Orian Lackey (keys), RJ Rex (mandolin), and Stefan Freeland (drums), whose son is playing the main character.

“They’re going to play six songs in the show,” Teran stated. “The rest of the music, mostly came from composer friends in LA,” she pointed out modestly, who create movie scores and do large events.

Aerialist Sorgen is ready to perform. “We’re really excited to be part of it, we get to stage the show at Western. That’s really exciting as it’s a big fancy theater,” she said. “The level of professionalism and costume from her [Teran’s] history is amazing.”

The performance itself looks to be something never before seen in Bellingham. At one point, Sorgen will be in an aerial cocoon. There will also be dance numbers which include water fairies, juggling pirates, fish doing a fan dance, plus performers on hand stilts, a rope walking octopus, and aerial performances on a whole new level (literally).

While Teran has been a large part of the driving force in this performance, it couldn’t have happened if there wasn’t such a strong circus performer scene already in place. “The Circus Guild is filled with a lot of talented performers,” Sorgen said. “It’s a really thriving circus scene.”

One that Teran fit in perfectly with.

Both Teran and Sorgen are quick to note this performance is family friendly, though people from all walks of life will enjoy it. There will even be a mermaid to do photo ops with the kids.

Teran is thrilled as the performance date nears. “It’s totally exciting and awesome,” she exclaimed, while Sorgen added, “If people really enjoy the Bellingham Circus Guild performers, this will be a new twist.”

PERFORMANCE DATES

Opening night of Something Wonderful takes place at the WWU Performing Arts Center mainstage on Friday, May 13 at 7:30 p.m. Free parking is on site. Tickets are available at the WWU box office through http://tickets.wwu.edu/.

Following opening night, the production will continue (on a smaller scale) at the
Cirque Lab at 1401 6th in Fairhaven on Friday, May 20 amd Saturday, May 21 at 7:30 p.m. A 2 p.m. show will be held on Sunday, May 22.

Pre-sale ticket specials are available through May 8 on Brown Paper tickets only ($15/adult and $40 for two adults and three kids). Ticket prices at the door will be $20/adult, $10/children under 12. and free for ages 5 and under.

Published in the May 2016 issue of What’s Up! Magazine