Mike Hirschbach

 

HIGH IMPACT CIRCUS & THEATRICS



Reviews

Current Shows ~ Past Performances

BUFFOON BUFFET

"Buffoon Buffet full of whimsy, playfulness"
Review by Elisa Barnard, the Chronicle-Herald (Halifax) May 15, 2005

"It's a match made in heaven, the joining of Sherry Lee Hunter's physical comedy with Michael Hirschbach's circus arts. Both have always been strong vocal and physical performers even without a bag of tricks. In Buffoon Buffet they create a family show that keeps kids hooked with a bag of tricks and narrative events, and keeps them giggling especially towards the end.Sherry & Mike - Buffoon Buffet

'It was a great time at this show,' said my five year old daughter, 'because I even got some souvenirs.' She used the word 'awesome' to describe Hirschbach's balancing of a giant tennis racket on one finger. Awesome, silly, imaginative and fun, Buffoon Buffet, which wraps up today at 1 p.m., at Alderney Landing, has an almost Beckett-like premise.

Two innocent clowns, Milton (Hirschbach) and Baguette (Hunter) are expecting all their friends to arrive for Buffoon Buffet Day, a giant annual party usually marred by Wilbur's explosive gifts. A sudden weather event, Hurricane Juanita, leaves them without guests and with nothing to do except sit on a giant chair. This comes after a lively intro with bicycles and diminishing and expanding balls and racquets, with a Jest in Time Theatre whimsy and playfulness. Finally, unable to resist temptation, Milton and Baguette open up their presents which are dolls of themselves. When Milton gets the tiny Baguette doll everything he does to her impacts on Hunter, so when he bangs the dolls head on the chair Hunter goes "Ow!"

When the characters reminisce about their parents it allows Hunter to revive her much-loved Ed sketch from Jest in Time Theatre's repertoire, and kids seeing it for the first time and mothers seeing it for their umpteenth time, love it. This is the sketch where Hunter is asleep in a tiny bed, snoring, and her teddy bear, Ed, wakes up.

Buffoon Buffet - clicking will take you to larger image

Hunter's mastery at puppetry here is matched by Hirschbach's when he neatly inserts a previous sketch of his own involving a jack-in-the -box who comes insanely alive. Hirschbach holds the box as he manipulates the puppet, who turns out to be Wilbur!
While Hirschbach's skills at juggling, puppetry and playing two recorders at once are amazing, Hunter holds her own as a consummate physical performer. Both are expressive and lively character actors."

"Feasting on Buffoon Buffet"
Review by Stephen Pederson, The Chronicle Herald May 19, 2006

...Both Hunter and Hirschbach are well-established professional mime and clown artists. As Baguette (Hunter) and Milted (Hirschbach) they ravaged the stage with slapstick humour, physical jokes and puppetry, while maintaining a running commentary about a birthday party which Hurricane Juanita prevented anyone from attending.

When Baguette opened the door, the sound of the wind rose exponentially and Hirschbach drew a delighted burst of applause for his one arm horizontal hand-stand illusion of the wind blowing him across the room.

The show was...full of short sequences of skits inspired by the opening of birthday presents in boxes which contained surprise gifts of unruly creatures like a sleepless teddy bear and an over-affectionate jack-in-the-box.

Clown humour with such polished artists never fails for audiences of any age.

 


HATFUL OF PODGER

"Hatful of Podger is the highlight of Kids' Theatre Fest"
Review by Marilyn Smulders, the Daily News (Halifax) May3, 1998

"At first, my kids were disappointed. I had billed the guy as a clown and the man standing before them seemed pretty ordinary, with only a battered bowler hat on his head to make him stand out from the crowd.

Then he began his show and there were no more complaints.

Michael Davis Hirschbach's A Hatful of Podger is a wonderful vehicle for this versatile and charming performer. Hirschbach tells a story about an eccentric uncle - the former owner of the battered bowler - all the while saluting the vaudeville era of entertainment.

He juggles, he plays the musical saw, he can ride a unicycle. With a rubber face made to bring on laughter, Hirschbach endears us to Uncle Podger, a clumsy old man who may not be able to hang a picture without inciting disaster, but who can balance a peacock feather on his chin or play two flutes at once.

The highlight of the show was Podger's first and only appearance on TV, in which he wrestles with a demonic jack-in-the-box. My kids were still chuckling about it hours later. You can't go wrong with A Hatful of Podger. And the word from the junior critics? Five year old: (serious) "He's very skilful." Three-year old: "He's as silly as Uncle Dick."

Review by Elissa Barnard, The Chronicle Herald (Halifax), May 3, 1998

"Michael Hirschbach has created a sophisticated, beautifully structured show that combines his skills at juggling, unicycling and physical comedy with story in A Hatful of Podger. Though the kids at Alderney Gate went nuts for the 'tricks' that include playing a saw, conducting and whistling the William Tell Overture, and being kissed by a jack-in-the-box gone nuts ( a great part of the show), it was all within the gentle, nostalgic context of an adult telling a story about his mentor, his crazy, eccentric Uncle Podger, who played the vaudeville circuit and was destroyed by TV. The magic for the kids amazed them because they weren't expecting to be wowed every minute, a la busker; the quiet moments made the comedy more powerful. Hirschbach is at the peak of his powers in this finely crafted piece of work."

"Hirschbach hilarious man from Uncle"
Review by Stephen Cooke, The Mail Star (Halifax), August 29, 1997

"No stranger to Fringe Festivals, Michael Hirschbach's name is practically a guarantee of some hearty laughs laced with a hint of the old clown standby, pathos.

A Hatful of Podger is a wonderful showcase for his many skills and winning personality. Beginning with the beat of bouncy jazz, Hirschbach appears like a human puppet behind a tall backdrop performing his absurd morning ablutions in neon blue pyjamas. With the aid of some giant propos, his simple acts of buffoonery with a fake leg and an oversize hair dryer are just a prelude, warming us up for the main act - a remembrance of eccentric Uncle Podger.

A born clown, Podger may have had trouble with everyday tasks like hanging a painting ("WW hat he lacked in skill he made up for in awkwardness," Hirschbach muses), but he floated like a cloud on a unicycle. Podger ids a typical oddball Uncle, with a bad joke for every occasion and strange habits like whistling the William Tell overture while conducting and imaginary orchestra.

Hirschbach further demonstrates Podger's musical acumen by playing two recorders at once, and playing a mournful elegy on the saw. Hirschbach's physical comedy skills are fully brought to bear during his portrayal of Uncle Podger's unsuccessful attempt at children's television. A struggle ensues with a rebellious, demonic jack-in-the-box in a moment of comic mayhem that had the audience in stitches.

Kids will love A Hatful of Podger but it will have extra meaning for adults remembering those unique family members who have touched their lives"


HA!

Filled with a swirl of circus skills, "Ha!" is a high-spirited celebration of play. It's full of inspired lunacy, inventive props and quirky paraphernalia. Visually exciting circus skills and audience participation help create the wanton heed and giddy cunning of this spectacle.

Suitable for all ages


SHIFT

"From the very beginning the audience was caught on the waves of highs and lows experienced by the actor as he made his way through the interview process with Cirque du Soleil. It was a wild ride of anticipation, fear, exhaustion and elation."
The Guysborough Journal

Shift is an intimate, uplifting and funny behind-the-scenes look at the discipline and chaos that goes into an intensive audition - in particular, Mike's 1999 10-hour audition for the Cirque du Soleil. Through humour and physicality the audience is plunged into the openness and abandon of this careening, emotional journey.

This show has mature themes, and is geared for older and adult audiences.


Past Performances

THE ADVENTURES OF BUMP FLINGO

Stephen Pederson, The Mail Star, 1994

"Michael Hirschbach's endearing show combining pantomime, puppetry, juggling and clowning is back. Bump's adventures as he rises in the morning, and starts a disaster-filled journey to the ACME Theatre is a complete play. Hirschbach invents devilish mishaps for his happy-go-lucky hero, but he's funny enough just taking a shower. Dressed in red-and-white striped, dark blue overalls, a red single-breasted jacket and a round, bowlerish hat, he falls, jumps, is pushed, pulled, pinched and prodded as events explode into action around him. Hirschbach creates a whole world of things - an apartment, a train station, a traffic jam - with vivid clarity. A musical score composed by Matthieu Keisjer adds a brilliant touch of sonic colour. This is a real family show, highly entertaining for all ages."

Elissa Barnard, Chronicle-Herald, 1993

"Bump Flingo has a somewhat European voice, a desire to be adored, and a funny sarcastic snap when his volunteers aren't behaving. Hirschbach is skilled at improvising and has a sense of timing and charisma to enchant kids."

Fredericton Daily Gleaner, 1993

"Bump Flingo is an acrobat/juggler/mime/unicycle rider and very funny guy. His very expressive face and seemingly boneless body is always in motion. Everyone in the audience, adults as well as kids, enjoyed his performance."

Bridgewater Bulletin, 1993

Bump Flingo delighted the audience with his gentle humour, dancing scarves and unicycling agility. He explored the art of the awkward using humour, the unexpected and physical comedy.


OLIO AND FRIENDS

Pictou Advocate

"Olio and Friends is a marvellous potpourri of mime, clown, juggling and magic guaranteed to enchant every child in your life. "He's magic," gurgled one cherub as Hirschbach/Olio balanced a broom on his foot during last night's opening performance...Olio is the invention of a fertile performance. Hirschbach is, indeed, wonderful. He captivated the children in last night's performance."

"Olio and Friends were full of surprises. They rode unicycles of all shapes and sizes, pulled yards and yards of coloured scarves mysteriously from it seemed, nowhere, juggled superbly in duets and trios - even with fire and turned fire into paper flowers. Magic eyes glowed and danced in the dark, hands and coloured balls leapt unexpectedly out of wooden boxes and much, much more - an evening of enchantment and pure delight!"

The Mail-star, 1988

'Hirschbach took the absurdly easy idea of juggling lighter-than-air scarves to the limit of extreme difficulty, combining wit, skill and clowning in a delightfully entertaining mix.

The Olympic Winter Games (Calgary), Arts Programming

"Your ability to adapt to the unique situations and conditions which presented themselves, while maintaining a sense of good humour, was key to our success, and an indication of your professional commitment - your performances were of the highest quality"


 
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