INSIDE THE CHANGING CIRCUS: A CRITIC'S GUIDE by David Lewis Hammarstrom - BearManor Manor
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Step right up to this eye-opening account of how circuses are scouted, produced, directed and ballyhooed — and forever reinventing themselves.  Covering them all, from Big Apple Circus and Cirque du Soleil to the bottom feeder big tops, the author’s unflinching candor and rich historical grasp may change forever how you view and experience the great spangled parade!

ISBN 9781593936792
About the Author
David Lewis Hammarstrom is the author of eight books on popular entertainment, from big tops to Broadway.  A former circus press agent and one-time contributor to Variety, he hosts the popular blog Showbiz David.

The following review appeared in the June 2012 issue of CHOICE:
Circuses today range from local, low-budget shows that may set themselves up in a mall parking lot to vast multimedia extravaganzas, such as Cirque du Soleil. With so much to choose from, how does a consumer decide what is worth seeing? And once in the audience, how can viewers evaluate what they see? These two questions inform Hammarstrom’s latest book about an entertainment he loves. The author of four previous books about the circus (including Fall of the Big Top, CH, Jul’08, 45-6054) and two about Broadway musicals, Hammarstrom is a fan of colorful public spectacles. Here, he gives the reader a combination of memoir and critique, drawing on his experiences attending circuses in the US, Russia, and China from the time he was a young boy; his many interviews with circus personnel; and his readings of various sources, including books, magazines, and even Wikipedia.

The book’s organization is idiosyncratic, with short chapters on clowns, animal acts, impresarios, and performers. One useful chapter—“On with the Show!”—offers a concise guide on how to evaluate variety, transitions, and pacing, which Hammarstrom considers the most critical elements of a performance’s success. Hammarstrom’s memories are vivid, and his enthusiasm is infectious. Summing Up: Recommended. General readers. – L. Simon, Skidmore College

Review from Spectacle Magazine