Paranormal Cirque II - Chandler, AZ
Living in AZ and working for Shakers & Hangman Tours remotely after being with the company for 4+ years, I’m always on the lookout for happenings and events that coincide with what I’ve come to know at Shakers.
You can imagine that seeing an event page for “Paranormal Cirque” piqued my interest. Paranormal Cirque and Paranormal Cirque II are a traveling production of acrobatics, cabaret, and general horror and is a subset of Cirque Italia. I thought it would be a perfect opportunity to collaborate with something in-person from out here, and thankfully (albeit last-minute), I was able to get my photographer and myself media passes.
I wasn’t certain what to expect when I walked into the big, lit-up circus tent – but I was there with notebook (and plenty of Shaker’s brochures and stickers) in hand. As far as first impressions go, mine involved mixed feelings. Both my photographer and I were impressed with the vibe upon entering. It was undoubtedly cool and spooky. It seemed, though, a little more haunted house-y than I was expecting, which made me worried that the Paranormal Cirque might end up a little hokey. And though using “Thriller” as their opening music initially reaffirmed that assumption, my opinion quickly shifted as the show really got going. In short, it turned out to be a pretty wicked performance.
The Paranormal Cirque involved horror, talent, spectacle, audience engagement, and LOTS of scantily-clad women – all things that Shaker’s and its staff just happen to know and love.
The first aerial act, by Livia Garciacano, came in strong with the demonic possession motif. As she was lifted into the air, my first thought was how fun aerial performing looked. That is until I realized she was being flung around by her hair. As if the way she could contort her body wasn’t unsettling enough! I can be a harsh critic – but at this point, I was into it.
Paranormal Cirque II paid homage to many horror classics and flawlessly entwined impressive circus acts with themes of occult terror. The crowd was oozing with both excitement and trepidation. Even the dance acts were bleeding with wickedness, eroticism, and chemistry among performers.
The show continued to inch me closer to the edge of my seat. There were some very real, potentially fatal performances that kept my breath bated and my jaw rigorously munching on my popcorn (and I don’t even like popcorn).
The real kicker was at the end – a huge spinning contraption and a dare-devil performance that happened so fast, that it left my head spinning along with it. The show was such a hit among audience members that it received TWO standing ovations at the end.
Post-performance, I was able to chat with Steve Copeland of “Steve and Ryan,” the show’s comic relief who gave off some heavy Abbott and Costello vibes. The duo aided the flow of the show and kept the audience rolling with laughter between their gasps of awe.
MD: What’s your background with this? Did it start with acting? Comedy? Theater? How did you get into this?
SC: Ryan and I have wanted to be circus clowns since we were little kids. We both met at Ringling Brothers Circus, and we worked there after we graduated from high school. We enjoyed working together because we had a similar sense of humor, we meshed well and improvised well together. When both of us left, we teamed up. That was in 2008. Since then, we’ve been touring around the country and around the world with different circuses. During the pandemic, we were both out of circus work because all the circuses had shut down – except for Cirque Italia. They approached us about being in their new show, so we started with them a year ago, but just recently – about a month ago – we became Paranormal Cirque II. There are two units of the Paranormal Cirque. The other one is currently on the East Coast, and here we are in Arizona and about to head to California. They were interested in having us because we have a background in circus and comedy, but also because we’ve written our own shows before. Actually, a show we had done for four summers was at Circus World Museum in Baraboo, WI – not too far from Milwaukee. So we’ve written scripts for Cirque Italia now, and we’re able to bring our creative talents to Paranormal II as well.
MD: Oh, that’s so cool. You guys are definitely good at crowd engagement, which I know the importance of especially because I used to work as a Tour Guide for Shaker’s and Hangman Tours before I got into all the media stuff for them. I know how it can be trying to work an audience.
SC: Thank you. Yeah, we’ve been doing it together for a while now.
MD: Seeing as you’ve been doing this kind of work for various shows, it was kind of a coincidence that it became this “paranormal” show for you. Do you know why they came up with the paranormal theme for this?
SC: The owner of Cirque Italia, Manuel Rebecchi, he wanted to bring something different for the people of the United States. He already had America’s first water circus, which currently he has two units of. Then four years ago, he had the idea to bring a “horror circus” to America. It’s been a resounding success because we definitely have a clientele. The people who come to our show are the people that you see that shop at Hot Topic or shop at Spencer’s, and are huge, huge horror fans. This show has a built-in audience. They come and they’re ready to have a good time.
MD: There is! There’s definitely a huge demographic of people who are into the horror stuff and the supernatural stuff. And true crime, and everything of the like.
SC: Ryan and I love horror as well, and horror and comedy go hand-in-hand. It’s all about the build-up of tension and then the release. In horror, it’s the scream. In comedy, it’s the laugh. Both of us are very well-versed in horror movies, so it was fun to get to work on this show and we look forward to working on it even more. This production is only about a month old, so we’ve got a lot of plans for it. We’ve got plans for a pre-show area, our materials constantly evolving, and we want to look at the show itself and find more ways to implement horror and different theming.
MD: Do you think you’ll be traveling to the Midwest anytime soon?
SC: This show will eventually, but the other unit of Paranormal Cirque is starting to make its way West, so they might make it close to Milwaukee before the end of the year. You can check paranormalcirque.com, which gets updated every few weeks with different cities.
So, was there anything truly paranormal about the Paranormal Cirque? No (though I did keep feeling like someone was kicking the back of my seat while no one was behind me).
Was it impressive? Thrilling? Sexy? Yes, to all the above.
Paranormal Cirque + Paranormal Cirque II - Find upcoming performance dates and locations here.