“A lot of people don’t know that I have really bad stage fright,” says Salvador Salangsang, the emcee and clown with circus show Le Noir.
Audiences certainly wouldn’t guess it from watching Sal’s exuberant performance in the international touring show – but after a career that has included breakdancing before NBA games and acting as understudy for singer Rick Springfield at the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas, he’s clearly learned how to get the nerves under control.
Sal says his role is to present Le Noir to the audience and take it through the journey of the show “in stages from white, to red and black”, ensuring the acts segue smoothly from one to the next.
“Think of me as the glue that keeps the show together.”
Here, Sal explains what audiences can expect from Le Noir, which opens in Adelaide next week and features 20 circus performers, including former cast members of Cirque du Soleil.
Producer Simon Painter says the concept for Le Noir involves audience members experiencing the show rather than just watching it – how is that achieved?
Not only are the audiences sitting in the theatre seats, they are surrounding us on stage. [The Adelaide Festival Centre’s Festival Theatre is being transformed to seat audiences around a custom-built stage].
Those sitting on the stage can see the performers’ every breath and bead of sweat; they can see how committed the cirque performers are and the determination on their faces.
The audience is closer to the action than ever before and that makes it all the more exhilarating and sometimes nerve-racking.
Le Noir is described as the “dark side of Cirque”. What is the dark element?
The risk that the artists take. No one is harnessed in and anything can happen at any time. No two shows are the same – you never know exactly how each show will go. and the danger element to the performers is real.
Some people are called up on stage … should they be afraid?
No, they shouldn’t. It’s a lot of fun. I want them to feel part of the show. Also, when the audience members see the participants after the show, they greet them like celebrities. Everyone congratulates them on what a great job they did. It’s ultimately about fun and I would never invite someone on stage who wasn’t up for the challenge.
In a show with so many impressive stunts and acts, which one consistently gets the biggest audience reaction?
Ooh, that’s hard to say. There is something for everyone in the show – daredevils will love the danger element of the Wheel of Death (pictured right) – the Columbians are crazy.
Those who like music will love the music from the show created by in-house DJ Hikori Roots. And some of the cirque routines, like Pas de Deux, are incredibly beautiful, and once you combine that with incredible bodies and the performers’ athleticism, there is so much to enjoy.
Audience reactions are really unique – from complete silence, to their hearts pumping in anticipation of what’s going to happen, followed by raucous applause.
You’ve got a very interesting CV, from break dancer at NBA basketball games in San Antonio and performing as costume characters at Texas Sea World, to being understudy for Rick Springfield. What’s been your most challenging job?
Understudy for Rick Springfield at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas – it’s a lot of pressure to understudy for a star like him and in an $80 million production. It’s an experience I’ll never forget.
Creating the character I do now in Le Noir is also challenging. There is a lot of trial and error when I write my acts. A lot of people don’t know that I have really bad stage fright.
And one thing I’m most excited about is I’m about to record a song I wrote. Rick’s sound engineer will help me with that and I can’t wait. That’s my next challenge.
Le Noir will be presented at the Adelaide Festival Centre’s Festival Theatre from April 22 until May 2.
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