Highlights: Longtime friends go on tour with Circus Smirkus

  • Circus Smirkus is performing six shows at Fullington Farm in Hanover, N.H., from July 18 through July 20. (Peter Ciardelli photograph) Peter Ciardelli photograph

  • Will Ciardelli, left, and Miki Hertog-Raz performed with the Van Lodostov Family Circus when they were in elementary school. (Courtesy photograph) Courtesy photograph

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 7/10/2019 10:00:18 PM
Modified: 7/11/2019 12:44:50 PM

Miki Hertog-Raz and Will Ciardelli followed a longer road than they expected to join the Circus Smirkus teen troupe on its 2019 tour of New England.

Next week at Fullington Farm in Hanover, the Norwich residents and Hanover High School sophomores-to-be will show the Upper Valley why they’re ready for their closeups.

“I didn’t make it last year,” Ciardelli recalled this week. “They discussed a lot about stage presence, about being more confident in front of an audience.”

They told Hertog-Raz twice — at the end of auditions in 2017 and 2018 — before he and Ciardelli both made the grade for this year’s tour, which pulled into Northampton, Mass., on Monday.

“They said I needed to work more on everything,” Hertog-Raz added during a phone conversation. “Stage presence is the most important thing.”

The longtime friends started learning the technical tricks of the trade at the Van Lodostov Family Circus Camp at Marion Cross School, where they’d met as third-graders. They progressed through juggling, clowning and acrobatics and loved them all.

Then they learned some crucial intangible lessons, Ciardelli on an exchange visit in Africa with Circus Zambia, Hertog-Raz with the Florentine Circus for kids in Israel.

“That pushed me to start training through the year,” Hertog-Raz recalled of his time in his parents’ native land.

The Zambian performers, from a slum in that country’s capital city, showed Ciardelli more than tricks.

“It made me realize how hard people had worked from zero,” said Ciardelli, whose mother, Brooke Ciardelli, is a producer for Circus Zambia. “I realized that if you work super-hard, you can improve.”

That work ethic is coming in handy on the Smirkus tour, which started in Greensboro, Vt., three weekends ago and then played St. Johnsbury and Essex in Vermont before traveling Monday to western Massachusetts. At each stop, the performers not only exercise their stage presence, but help take down and load the rigging and the tent at the end of that run, then unload and re-erect the infrastructure at the next stop, with little rest before the first show.

“We’re lucky to be working with performers who have come back from past tours,” Hertog-Raz said. “They’ve been showing us what to do and how to act. They’re really our biggest role models.”

Next week, they get to show the Upper Valley everything they’ve learned.

“It’s a circular ring, so your really have to spread your energy throughout the whole tent,” Ciardelli said. “You have to keep it really high energy. You just throw everything into the performance.”

Circus Smirkus performs six shows at Fullington Farm in Hanover, from next Thursday night through July 20. For tickets ($18 to $22) and more information, visit smirkus.com or call 877-764-7587. Tickets also are available at Norwich Bookstore.

Best bets

Wilder roots musician Jakob Breitbach kicks off a midsummer series of acoustic-jazz jam sessions on Thursday evening at 5, at the Hotel Coolidge’s Cafe Renee in White River Junction. The next jam is scheduled for July 25, and in between, Breitbach will continue hosting his weekly acoustic jam session of bluegrass, Americana and old-timey music on Tuesday nights at 7 at Filling Station Bar and Grill in White River.

■Bread and Puppet Theater performs its “The Diagonal Life Circus,” on Thursday night at 6 on Haverhill Corners Common. Admission by donation.

■The Chosen Vale International Percussion Seminar concludes at the Enfield Shaker Village this weekend, with two free concerts by faculty and students in Mary Keane Chapel. On Friday night at 8, the program’s theme is “Metal/Wood.” And the finale, on Saturday night at 8, features compositions by Michael Burritt, Annika Socolofsky and John Cage.

■ Foreverinmotion, Johnny O and The Illusion set the rhythm for TroutStock, a celebration of the 50th anniversary of Woodstock rock festival, on Saturday from noon to 4 at Trout River Brewery in Springfield, Vt. Admission $20. Tickets at springfieldonthemove.net.

■Syrian-American musician Bassel Almadani and his soul and funk band The Supernaturals perform three shows in the Upper Valley in the coming days, starting Sunday afternoon at 2 at the Saint-Gaudens National Historical Park in Cornish, where admission is included in park’s $10 entry fee. Subsequent shows are set for Monday night at 7 at Broad Street Park in Claremont (admission by donation) and at Colburn Park in Lebanon next Thursday night at 7.

■The folk-rock trio David Rosane & The Zookeepers (aka Bradford, Vt. musicians Jenn Grossi and Don Sinclair) bring their “Across the Zoo-niverse” tour to the Bradford Public Library on Wednesday night at 7. Admission by donation to the fund benefiting libraries around northern and eastern Vermont. Next Upper Valley appearance Aug. 23 at Chelsea Public Library.

Theater/performance art

The Odd Couple, musical adaptation of the Neil Simon comedy, performances at New London Barn Playhouse from Thursday night through Sunday afternoon. The ‘50s musical Grease opens on Wednesday night. To reserve seats ($20 to $37) and learn more about 2019 summer season, visit nlbarn.org or call 603-526-6710.

Big Fish, North Country Community Theatre’s production of the Broadway musical adaptation, six performances between Friday night and July 20 at Lebanon Opera House Admission $13.50 to $23.50.


Bow Thayer, folk-rock and Americana, Thursday night at 5:30, during at Feast & Field Market at Fable Farm in Barnard.

■Laura Orshaw & the New Velvet Band, bluegrass, Thursday night at 7 at Colburn Park in Lebanon; East Bay Jazz Ensemble, Monday night at 7.

■Sensible Shoes, rock and pop, Friday afternoon at 4 on the patio at King Arthur Flour in Norwich.

■ Orford soul singer-songwriter Senayit and other rock and roots performers, Fairlee Sound Bath concert, Friday night from 5:30 to 7 at Milldale Farm in Fairlee. Admission $25.

■Green Mountain Playboys, Cajun, Friday night at 5:30 on lawn behind North Universalist Chapel in Woodstock. Admission by donation.

■Singer Jamie Smith, bassist Peter Concilio, guitarist Ed Eastridge and drummer Marcus Copening, jazz, Friday night at 6:15 on downtown Lebanon mall; The Bears, roots-rock, Saturday night at 6:15.

■ Hopkinton Town Band, Friday night at 6:30 at Haddad Bandstand in New London.

■Rusty Berrings Brass Band, New Orleans-style jazz, free concert on the Norwich Green on Saturday evening from 5 to 7.

■ Cantrip, Celtic folk, Saturday night at 7:30 at Library Arts Center in Newport. Admission $16 in advance (visit libraryartscenter.org or call 603-863-3040), $20 at the door.

■4 Hoarse Men, roots-rock, Saturday night at 7:30 at ArtisTree Community Arts Center. Admission $10.

■Singer-songwriter Timothy James, Saturday night at 7:30 at North Common Arts in Chelsea. Admission $10.

■Upper Valley Chamber Orchestra, works of Ellington and Schubert, Sunday afternoon at 3 at Hanover High School. Admission $10.

■George Voland Quintet, jazz, Tuesday night at 6:30 at Fairlee Town Common. Admission free.

■Mo’Combo, rock and R&B, Tuesday night at 7 on Canaan Town Common.

■Chad Hollister, rock, Wednesday night at 6:30 on the Quechee Green.

■Ranky Tanky, free concert of Gullah folk rhythms infused with jazz, gospel, funk and R&B, Wednesday night at 5:30 on the Dartmouth Green in Hanover.

■ Wightman & Clegg, jazz and rock, Wednesday night at 6:30, at Ben Mere Bandstand overlooking Sunapee Harbor.


Farm to Ballet youth tour, Saturday night at 6:30, at weekly pizza gathering at Crossmolina Farm in West Corinth. Admission $10 to $25.

Bar and club circuit

WOOL, bluegrass, Thursday night at 7 at Windsor Station; KRIS, jam rock, Saturday night at 9:30; singer-songwriter Erik Boedtker, Tuesday night at 6.

■Guitarist Paul Asbell, folk and roots, Thursday night at 7:30 at The Skinny Pancake in Hanover. Admission $12 in advance, $14 at door.

■ Royalton singer-songwriter Alison “AliT” Turner, Friday night at 7 at Inn at Weathersfield.

■ Moxley Union, rock, Friday night at 8 at Skunk Hollow Tavern in Hartland Four Corners.

■The Party Crashers, rock and pop, Friday night at 8 at Sumner House in Charlestown.

■Ken Macy, rock, Friday night at 9 at Salt hill Pub in West Lebanon; Bob & Shane, roots rock, Saturday afternoon at 4.

■Chris Powers, rock, Friday night at 9 at Salt hill Pub in Lebanon; Better Days, classic rock, Saturday night at 9.

■Amanda McCarthy, singer-songwriter, Friday night at 9 at Salt hill Pub in Newport.

■Saxophonist Michael Parker and guitarist Norm Wolfe, jazz, on Saturday night at 8:30 at Lake Morey Resort in Fairlee, and on Wednesday night at 5:30 at Quechee Inn at Marshland Farm.

■Jim Yeager, rock/funk, Monday night at 7 at Woodstock Inn’s Richardson Tavern.

■Jazz pianist Sonny Saul, Wednesday night at 6:30 at On the River Inn in Woodstock.

Open mics/jam sessions

Alec Currier’s open-mic at Salt hill Pub in Lebanon, Thursday nights at 8.

■Saxophonist Fred Haas’ monthly jazz jam with organist Norm Yanofsky and guitarist Billy Rosen, Friday night from 6 to 8 at The Skinny Pancake in Hanover.

■Joseph Stallsmith’s hootenanny of Americana, folk and bluegrass, Monday nights at 6 at Salt hill Pub in Hanover.

■Tom Masterson’s open mic, Tuesday nights at 7 at Colatina Exit.

■Jim Yeager hosts open mics at The Public House Pub in Quechee on Tuesday night at 6; at Skunk Hollow Tavern on Wednesday night at 8.

David Corriveau can be reached at dcorriveau@vnews.com or 603-727-3304. Send entertainment news to highlights@vnews.com.


Norwich resident MikiHertog-Raz is touring this summer with the Circus Smirkus youth troupe. An earlier version of this story misspelled his last name.

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