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Clowns: Singin' in the Rain
Mark the clown goofs on Gene Kelly's trademark dance moves.
What is most compelling about Mark Gindick's clown (nicknamed "Marky" by fellow performers) is the earnestness he brings to the ring. "My clown character is me except magnified 10 times; he's the everyman nerd who wants to be a rock star," says Gindick.
This season, Mark is the straight-man to Grandma's antics in a parody of the American classic, "Singin' in the Rain," an act that features Mark—decked out in his trademark oversized glasses, white socks and dark orthopedic-looking shoes—dancing like Gene Kelly while Barry Lubin's Grandma spits water on him.
"What a dream for a clown who always wanted to be a professional dancer," says Gindick. But the act, which Guest Director Steve Smith calls a "golden moment when the angels sing," came together despite all the odds.
The early season loss of a flying trapeze act meant that the running order of Play On! had to change. The clowns were challenged to put together another act that would fill a hole in the show. At the same time, Clown Barry Lubin was away from the Big Apple Circus with a serious health concern.
"(Barry) and I jammed this idea over the phone, and as we talked about it I knew we had something that was going to work very well in the ring," says Gindick. But even though the idea resonated with both clowns and management, the act had yet to be tested in front of an audience. "Singin' in the Rain" debuted in Virginia, where it drew big laughs and much critical praise.
Big Apple Circus Founder Paul Binder says that one reason this act gets the guffaws is because Mark is dancing his heart out, and that intentness, in the context of a clown act, heightens the humor. "He's not goofing on Gene Kelly, he's doing his best to be Gene Kelly," says Binder.
"The young ones laugh because Grandma is spitting water on me, and the adults identify with the piece because of the movie," says Gindick. "I could see people singing along and really feeling as if they were the ones in the ring. That was really inspiring for me as a performer."