Sexy, death-defying ‘Empire’

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THIS MONTH producer Ross Mollison is bringing his biggest sensation to an antique 700-seat spiegeltent pitched right outside the Canberra Theatre.

Aerial artist Lucia Carbines as “Miss A in a Bubble”... won an Australian national title for horse vaulting.
Aerial artist Lucia Carbines as “Miss A in a Bubble”… won an Australian national title for horse vaulting.
“Empire” is the same show he pitched to a New York businessman with an unused vacant lot near Times Square in 2008.

“People just love it,” Mollison enthuses, for a show full of sexy, death-defying acts in a mixed cabaret-circus-song format.

“And it’s really funny, too, full of that larrikin knockabout Australian humour,” he says.

No stranger to our city (“I just love Canberra”), he brought the musical “Falsettos” to the Canberra Theatre, gave us “Puppetry of the Penis” and co-produced the big-top version of “Cats” that played on the old Futsal court by the lake in 1999.

Mollison was once the right-hand man to entrepreneur Harry M Miller, and reminisces about waiting all night outside the local paper for the Canberra review of “M. Butterfly”.

For “Empire”, Mollison engaged top international circus acts, including a trio from the Ukraine that is quite literally a “gold medal act”.

The Gorilla Girls.
The Gorilla Girls.
Ekaterina Rudenko, Alona Stekolinkova and Alina Reutska, the gorgeous “Gorilla Girls” who form a human pyramid, were all members of the Ukrainian acrobatics team from 2008–2009.

It’s an exotic line up with a distinct acrobatic flavour.

The lead is Ringling Bros-trained American clown “Oscar the Impresario” and MC, Jonathan Taylor. His sidekick, showgirl “Fanny”, is Anne Goldmann, who started life as a gymnast before turning to theatre.

Aerial artist Lucia Carbines, “Miss A in a Bubble,” won an Australian national title for horse vaulting. Canadian Renaldo Williams Jr discovered gymnastics at age 12, while his partner Naomi Zimmermann-Pichon began at age five.

Yasuaki “Yasu” Yoshikawa is the US Open Single Wheel world champion.

Mollison hastens to assure “CityNews” that he admires former Canberran David Bates and his “Famous Spiegeltent”.

“David is a great friend,” he says, and Centenary artistic director Robyn Archer, for whom Bates brought his tent (there are a few of them around the world) to the Canberra Centenary during autumn, he praises as “a genius”.

He rather wishes he’d got in first, but with sexy, dangerous acts, songs from Casey Jamerson, choreography by Baz Luhrmann favourite John “Cha Cha” O’Connell and fabulous costumes by Oscar-winner Angus Strathie, who started out with the old Canberra Theatre Company, he’s on to a winner.

“Empire”, in Spiegelworld at Civic Square, October 10-November 3, bookings to 6275 2700 or or

Top image: “Empire’s” 3D Graffiti Guy.

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