The big secret about the Flying Karamazov brothers is they are a bunch of really smart guys. I am privy to many of their offstage accomplishments and academic achievements, because [disclaimer here] - they have been customers of mine for over 30 years (see my connection here and here.) Knowing this about them, it will come as no surprise to see an old tag line: "Juglito ergo sum" - I juggle, therefore I am.
What is no secret, is that they are also very talented performers. They are not brothers, they do not fly (only the objects do), and they have no connection to Dostoyevsky, although their character names are based on the novel: Alexei (Mark Ettinger) is their resident musician, composer and conductor. Pavel (Rod Kimball) is the master juggler. Dmitri (Paul Magid) is the writer, director, and founder. Maximov (Nick Flint) is media savant. Zossima (Stephen Bent) is exceptionally tall.
The show is well crafted, and the members are highly skilled jugglers as well as musicians/composers and writers. This has been the case throughout their long career, which has included a number of cast member changes.
The troupe was formed in 1973 on the streets of Santa Cruz, California. Paul Magid is the only remaining original member. The other original members were Howard Patterson, Tim Furst and Randy Nelson. Read more about them at their website here.
The award winning troupe has performed internationally, with credits too numerous to list here, including Lincoln Center, Broadway, the Brooklyn Academy of Music, TV and film. They have produced a number of shows, all built around their juggling and musical skills. One show, built completely around music, Sharps, Flats and Accidentals, was performed at Lincoln Center.
One routine which builds throughout the show is known as the Terror Trick. Over the course of the program, nine objects are introduced (a cleaver, a torch, a salt shaker, a ukelele, a skillet, a fish, an egg, a block of dry ice, and a bottle of champagne) and juggled as the finale - with the fish and the egg ending up in the skillet and the pouring of the champagne into glasses.
The other perennial favorite is the The Gamble, in which "the Champ" (Dmitri) will attempt to juggle any three items provided by the audience. This challenge is well known to many attending their shows - they have seen just about everything, and the Champ is rarely stumped. The three objects are chosen by the audience's applause from the collection on stage. There are rules, however. The object:
Must weigh more than an ounce (28 grams)
Must weigh less than 10 pounds (4.5 kg)
Must be no bigger than a breadbox
Must not be a live animal
Must not be able to stop the "Champ" from being a live animal
The Champ is also permitted to make up to three modifications to the selected items (in total). If The Champ can juggle the items for ten continuous throws (in three tries), he wins a standing ovation from the audience; if he fails, he gets a pie in the face.
Their routines are peppered with wordplay and clever references, because, as we know, they are a bunch of really smart guys :)
Note: The photos are from their current show, 4Play, which is playing at the Minetta Lane Theatre in the Village. It runs until March 7, 2010.