Was “Where the Wild Things Are” a favorite children’s book of yours? As a kid, did you ever disappear into an imagined jungle in your own bedroom and sail to an island filled with monsters?
Think you’re too old to do it again?
This is a production with a wide variety of appropriate names and acts: Dr. Sick works as the narrator, Thugsy Da Clown as the protagonist Max, Lady Beast does aerial acts and Stitch the Geek of New York swallows swords. There are many other characters and acts inspired by the circus, carnivals and sideshows.
Kali von Wunderkammer is the creative mind behind Freaksheaux to Geaux and will do an interactive goblin duet performance with Chatty the Mime for the “Where the Wild Things Went” show.
Though a fan of the burlesque scene in New Orleans, Wunderkammer didn’t feel fully connected to it.
“I think burlesque is great,” Wunderkammer said, “but my heart is really much more with the circus and the sideshow and that carnival feeling.”
A seven-year resident of New Orleans, Wunderkammer was inspired by shows like Circus Contraption and Yard Dogs Road Show, which integrated live bands with cabaret acts and created an opportunity for large variety shows.
“New Orleans is a music city,” she said, “and it seemed weird to me that we didn’t have anything like that.”
She launched Freaksheaux to Geaux in April 2011. Since then, she and her group of performers have traveled all over the country, from Seattle to Atlanta and many places in between.
Wunderkammer is excited to put on this adult rendition of “Where the Wild Things Went,” because the children’s classic was her favorite as a kid.
Her goal is to combine her love of the circus and the childlike wonder surrounding the book while updating it to current, adult sensibilities.
“One of the things with Freaksheaux I try to capture is the wonder of going to the circus,” Wunderkammer said. “I remember going to see Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey as a child and I thought, ‘Oh my God. This is amazing.’ I wanted that childlike wonderment but then in an adult sense.”
The production sticks close to the source material while exploring beyond the edges of Maurice Sendak’s famous book.
“After Max comes home and goes to bed, we see what happens after that,” she said. “We find ‘Where the Wild Things Went.’ ”
The band performing with Freaksheaux to Geaux will not be its typical house band, which the aforementioned Dr. Sick leads.
As the variety show’s band takes a break, Ford Theatre Reunion, a self-described neo-carnival rock ’n’ roll group from Kentucky, will take the stage and play the performance through.
Ford Theatre Reunion and Wunderkammer’s variety acts have toured and performed together since Freaksheaux to Geaux’s fourth show.
Wunderkammer is enthusiastic about working with Ford Theatre Reunion again, saying they bring a great amount of experience and assuredness to their performances.
“They just work very well together,” she said, “and are extremely expressive during their shows. They’ve worked a lot with live performers, and that takes some getting used to.”
Wunderkammer suggests audiences come with their guard down and their hearts brimming with nostalgia.
“This is a show where I like to break down some of those barriers and really have a good time,” Wunderkammer said, leaning forward.
“We’re going to try and bring everything that’s fun and exciting about the circus and ‘Where the Wild Things Are.’ I want to remind people what that’s like.”
And let the wild rumpus begin.