NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

PortWatch

July 25, 2013

'A magic process'

Circus Smirkus performances to benefit Theater in the Open

Brace yourself, folks. The circus is coming to town.

Newburyport’s Theater in the Open is bringing Circus Smirkus to Newbury’s Manter Field on Friday, Aug. 2, and Saturday, Aug. 3.

For Theater in the Open’s artistic director, Edward Speck, it’s been a dream come true.

“It’s really a magic process to be a part of,” Speck said of Circus Smirkus. “It’s all the things you’d expect from the circus except for the animals.”

Currently in its 34th year of operation, Speck’s nonprofit theater organization has been busy preparing to welcome Circus Smirkus for the second time in two years after a long hiatus. This year’s circus theme will be “Oz Incorporated,” based on “The Wizard of Oz,” and promises everything from the Yellow Brick Road to the flying monkeys.

Speck, 31, grew up with Theater in the Open, starting with its summer arts workshop as a youngster. When he was 15, the circus came to town for the first time.

“It was a huge step for Theater in the Open,” Speck said. “To work with another organization that was working on a slightly larger scale than we were and doing a large tour every year, and it became a rather large fundraiser for us. So, culturally and economically, it was a huge boon for Theater in the Open.”

The Circus Smirkus event became Theater in the Open’s biggest fundraiser for the next four years.

“Really, it was a win-win,” Speck said. “The area gets this wonderful program to visit each year. Theater in the Open got to help its operating budget, and Circus Smirkus was able to tap into the wonderful, artistic families of the Newburyport and surrounding areas.”

But, as with all good things, the theater’s time with the circus came to an end. So, when Speck became artistic director in 2009, he knew what he wanted to see return to the area — it just took a few years to make it happen.

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