The Grand Tour:
Big Apple Circus Family Benefit
with Guest Ringmaster Jim Gaffigan
Raised More Than $420,000
Saturday, November 21, 2015 at 3:30pm
New York, NY – Big Apple Circus hosted its annual Holiday Season Family Benefit, a special event that raises funds for the nonprofit performing arts institution’s community programs, on Saturday, November 21, 2015 under the Big Top in Damrosch Park at Lincoln Center (62nd Street between Amsterdam and Columbus Avenues), and featured comedian Jim Gaffigan as Guest Ringmaster. The event was attended by 1,100 audience members and raised more than $420,000 to support the company’s community programs.
The event began with a pre-show reception at 3:30pm, where attendees learned circus skills, clowned around with strolling performers, and enjoyed refreshments, followed by a performance of The Grand Tour at 4:30pm. A post-show party concluded the day, with music and dessert in the ring with the artists.
Proceeds from the Family Benefit support Big Apple Circus artistry in the ring and the nonprofit’s exceptional community programs in hospitals, nursing homes, and schools, in NYC and across America. This year, The Grand Tour will reach more then 300,000 under the Big Top, and community programs will serve more than 250,000 pediatric patients, nursing home residents, and physically, cognitively, or economically challenged children, families, and seniors.
LEADERSHIP COMMITTEE: Joe Bogdan, Kim Ladota Bozzella, Mary Jane and Charles Brock, Gabrielle and Eric Brown and Family, Prather and Jake Claghorn, Stephanie and Fred Clark, Samantha Rudin Earls and David Earls, Molly and Frank Green, The Goldenheim Family, Ron and Peggy Gross, Robin Henry and Jonathan Goodman, Patricia Keim and Peter Weingard, Virginia and Richard Keim, Alice and Jeffrey Keimweiss, Kimberly Kleinbaum, Gerald and Wendy Kleinbaum, The Clifford/Levy Family, Rick and Dee Mayberry, Susan May-McLean and Family, Jacqueline and Alan Mitchell, Gabriel Nussbaum and Elizabeth Wood, Brooke and John Paduano, Nancy and Dan Paduano, Philip and Wendy Renshaw-Lewis, Pia and Jimmy Zankel.
Sponsors: BOIES SCHILLER & FLEXNER LLP; Mary Jane Brock Family Foundation; The Goldenheim Family; May and Samuel Rudin Family Foundation; Pia and Jimmy Zankel; Anonymous; BNY Mellon Wealth Management; Falcon Management Corporation; Fidelity National Title; Ron and Peggy Gross; Hasbro; Virginia and Richard Keim; Rick and Dee Mayberry; Nancy and Dan Paduano.
Jim Gaffigan is a Grammy nominated comedian, New York Times best-selling author, top touring performer, and multi-platinum-selling father of five. Recently, he wrapped the first season of his semi-fictitious television show, The Jim Gaffigan Show, which TV Land just picked up for a second season. The series, lauded by The Los Angeles Times as “fun and
funny,” and People Magazine as “one of summer TV’s bright spots,” was developed by Gaffigan and his wife, Jeannie, who both also serve as executive producers. The single-camera comedy co-stars Ashley Williams, Michael Ian Black, and Adam Goldberg and revolves around one man’s struggle to balance fatherhood, stand-up comedy, and an insatiable appetite.
With multiple projects in motion, Gaffigan is currently traveling the country on behalf of his stand-up tour, Contagious, and will headline Madison Square Garden for the first time on December 12th. On September 26th of this year, Gaffigan had the honor of performing in front of Pope Francis and over one million festival attendees at the Festival of Families.
Gaffigan’s fourth special (Beyond the Pale -2006, King Baby -2009, Mr. Universe -2012), Obsessed, premiered on Comedy Central in 2014, and the DVD/CD was released soon after by Comedy Central Records. Obsessed premiered at #1 on iTunes, which marked the fifth time Gaffigan reached the Top 25 Comedy category on iTunes. The album also earned a nomination for ‘Best Comedy Album of the Year’ at the 2015 Grammy Awards. In 2013, Jim’s first book, Dad Is Fat, was released by Crown Publishing and debuted at #5 on The New York Times Best Sellers List and remained on the list for 17 weeks. His second book, Food: A Love Story, was released in the fall of 2014 and debuted at #3 on The New York Times Best Sellers List. In addition to his TV show, widely popular stand-up comedy, and best-selling books, Jim has also made guest appearances on many TV comedies and dramas, ranging from Portlandia to HBO’s cult hits Flight of the Conchords and Bored to Death, to dramatic roles in all three versions of Law & Order. He will also co-star in Magnolia Picture’s The Experimenter, which debuted at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival and opened in limited release on October 16, 2015. Gaffigan was born in Elgin, Illinois, and is the youngest of six children. He currently lives in Manhattan with his wife, Jeannie, and their five children.
Big Apple Circus returns to the Big Top at Lincoln Center for the company’s 38th season with the World Premiere of its all-new show. The Grand Tour transports audiences to the Roaring 1920s, the advent of the modern travel era, when the most adventuresome began to tour the world in ships, planes, trains, and automobiles. With every seat less than 50 feet from the stage, audiences will be awed by the world-class entertainers as they perform breathtaking acts from the four corners of the globe. Clowns, jugglers, acrobats, and aerialists from Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, and North and South America appear with ponies, puppies, and more; the troupe sets off on a whirlwind adventure, accompanied by the live, seven-piece Big Apple Circus Band at each of more than 100 performances.
Four-time Big Apple Circus ringmaster John Kennedy Kane returns to introduce a variety of stunning performers: clowns Joel Jeske and Brent McBeth; third-generation circus animal trainer Jenny Vidbel with her pony and dog acts; aerialist Sergey Akimov; international juggling sensation Alexander Koblikov; ninth-generation circus performer Chiara Anastasini with hula hoops; the Dominguez Brothers defying the law of gravity with their thrill-filled act featuring the Wheel of Wonder; Chinese hand balancers The Energy Trio; the African acrobatic troupe Zuma Zuma; and the Dosov Troupe soaring on the teeterboard.
The Grand Tour, conceived and created by Joel Jeske, is directed by Mark Lonergan (artistic director of Parallel Exit, the three-time Drama Desk Award-nominated physical theater company) with associate director and choreographer Antoinette DiPietropolo. Musical direction by Rob Slowik with clown material created and directed by Joel Jeske. Set and lighting design by Maruti Evans, costume design by Oana Botez, and props design by Katie Fleming.
About Big Apple Circus
(Will Maitland Weiss, Executive Director; Guillaume Dufresnoy, Artistic Director) Conceived and founded by Paul Binder and Michael Christensen to be a leading presenter of live family entertainment and a nonprofit performing arts institution, our nation-wide performances and community programs have made our 38-year history far-reaching and full. It all began in 1974, when American entertainers Binder and Christensen became juggling partners and took to the street corners of Europe. Their comedic juggling act was a hit, and they soon found themselves on the stage of the prestigious Nouveau Cirque de Paris. They returned home to America in 1976 with a vision: to entertain and improve the lives of millions of American children and families. One year later, they found a site for the first tent-raising in Battery Park, New York, and went on to create the award-winning, nonprofit Big Apple Circus.
Big Apple Circus Clown Care® brings the joy of classical circus to hospitalized children at 15 leading pediatric facilities across the United States. Performers collaborate with doctors and staff to design a program to fit the needs of each hospital. Members of the Clown Care team bring the healing power of humor to children with acute and chronic illnesses, visiting nearly 225,000 young patients every year.
Big Apple Circus offers a specially adapted performance of the show, Circus of the Senses, for children and adults with vision or hearing impairments and/or other disabilities. American Sign Language interpreters are positioned in spotlights throughout the tent, and wireless audio headsets transmit a live audio play-by-play description of the action in the ring. Braille or large-print descriptive programs are available for audience members. A “touch session” after the show offers a unique opportunity for pre-selected groups of visually impaired children to go into the ring to meet the artists and literally feel a clown nose, a juggler’s clubs, or the silky coat of a performing dog. Big Apple Circus Embraces Autism provides performances with modified lighting and sound as well as a staffed calming center, to meet the needs of children on the autism spectrum. Inclusion is a core value at Big Apple Circus, which is dedicated to delivering the finest circus entertainment to everyone, regardless of physical or cognitive ability, or economic circumstance.
Circus for All!® distributes free and subsidized tickets to schools and nonprofit organizations serving low-income children and families, enabling many of them to experience the excitement and wonder of the circus for the very first time.
Circus After School® teaches kids life skills such as teamwork, responsible risk-taking, and perseverance, through a structured program of learning and performing circus arts.
For more information, visit www.bigapplecircus.org.