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Local Talent Coming Back To Waltham

Editor’s note: This story first appeared in the Waltham Patch in Waltham, MA on July 23, 2019 and was written by Scott Souza

Glenn Doyle • Age 15 • Arlington, MA

WALTHAM, MA — Arlington High School rising sophomore Glenn Doyle has been told there could be quite a crowd of familiar faces from the Spy Ponder wrestling team for his homecoming this weekend. Only the 15-year-old won’t be showing off his skills on the mat — where he placed third at 106 pounds in Division 2 Metro States as a freshman this past winter — he will be showing off his skills as a clown and acrobat for Circus Smirkus when it makes its annual stop at Waltham’s Gore Place Thursday through Sunday.

“They’re enthusiastic about it,” he said while in between matinee and evening shows in Marshfield on Tuesday. “They all said they were going to pack the tent when the show came (to Waltham). I don’t know if they are really going to go or not. But they are very supportive of it and ask a lot of questions about it. I hope they show up.”

Doyle said the wrestling teammates, and the rest of those who attend the 32nd annual tour of the traveling circus, will see “one of the best shows ever presented at Circus Smirkus – they will laugh, will be in awe and their cheeks will be hurting from smiling so much.”

Doyle moved to Arlington in 2015 from the Netherlands where he spent 6½ years training first in gymnastics and then competitive acrobatics, where he learned skills and techniques of the circus. He has since given up gymnastics because the long hours conflict with his circus training, but competes in both wrestling and cross country at Arlington High.

Glenn Doyle flipping in the banquine act

“You are used to training 20 hours a week (in gymnastics) so when we put in long hours here it’s not that bad,” he said. “It’s fun being out there helping take down the tent with everybody at 10 o’clock at night. Cross country gets me in shape, and wrestling practices themselves are tough, so that prepares me to be out in the heat of the summer with the circus. It helps me know how to keep my hydration up.”

The troupe of 30 budding circus performers ages 11 through 18, including eight from Massachusetts, dealt with some extreme heat this past weekend during a stop in Hanover, New Hampshire. The Smirkus Big Top then moved to Marshfield where Tuesday’s massive downpours threatened to cancel or shorten one of the shows.

Alexa Wang • Age 17 • Jamaica Plain, MA

“It was crazy but we pulled it off,” said Boston Latin rising senior Alexa Wang, performing in her third Circus Smirkus. “The show was pushed back an hour, but we managed to get in a full show, and we really weren’t expecting that. I am proud of everybody involved.”

For Doyle, Wang and the rest of the troupe – which includes Melrose 14-year-old Eva Lou Rhinelander and Newton 18-year-old Chase Levy – the involvement is year-round with individual training before those selected for the traveling event convene for a three-week camp in Greensboro, Vermont to work on the summer’s show.

Wang, who began dancing at 3 years old, performs as an acrobatic, a clown and a juggler in the show. She attended the Circus Smirkus camp for five years and said she auditioned for the traveling show every year she could until she was chosen when she was 15.

“The moment I found out I was on the tour changed my life,” said Wang, who intends to apply for musical theater colleges and École nationale de cirque, a national circus school in Montreal. “I was hoping for it for so long I thought it was never going to happen. When I found out that I was going to be able to do it that opened so many opportunities for me.”

Circus Smirkus is performed under European-style circus tents in a show that is steeped in tradition, but Wang said is always adding something new.

“The show is full of surprises,” she said. “You will see things you have never seen in circus history and things you will never see again. We do unique things in the air and do unique clown gags. Every show is full of special and unexpected things.”

While the show is loaded with fun and laughs, the effort that goes into getting ready for it and performing in it is no joke. Doyle said he has gained 15 pounds in mostly muscle since wrestling season as he eyes competing on the mat at 120 pounds next year, and a possible career in the circus.

“A lot of people think doing this is like a summer camp but it’s a very professional place,” he said. “It’s like if Cirque du Soleil is the Major League (in baseball) then this is Triple-A. It gets you ready for the biggest stage.”

Alexa Wang, Theo LeBlanc and Glenn Doyle clowning