Friday, April 12, 2013

Bello Mania



Bello Mania
Bello Nock and company
at the New Victory Theater, Broadway
Everybody loves a clown. Well, I suppose it depends on the clown. But everybody loves Bello Nock, the former Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey master. From the moment he appears in his recent production of Bello Mania, in a huge, inflated version of his costume, we cannot take our eyes off him.
Athletic and precise, he does handstands on a high wire and executes somersaults on a trampoline. He grapples with Spot the (invisible) Wonderdog. He brings a grown-up from the audience and shoots an invisible apple off her head with an invisible arrow. His bike keeps falling apart, but he’s indomitable.

Those infallible critics in the audience, the kids, loved every minute. He invites a few up on stage and works with them to everyone’s delight.

The highlight of the show is the Sway Pole act, in which Bello climbs a mildly streetlight that ascends to the ceiling. The pole is off the stage, at the foot of the audience and, apart from the delight of the act itself, it’s the location that distinguishes it. Even that small repositioning gives the stage event a greater immediacy.

The greatest thing is the contact he keeps with his audience. He’s no marionette-as-clown, no distant Punch. His goofy face registers confusion, pride, enjoyment… With his red hair six inches vertical and his silly lop-sided smile, he radiates exuberance, enjoying with us our enjoyment of the act. And he does it all silently. He’s brilliant.

Steve Capra
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