After eight hours of rehearsal Sunday, Natalie Brown spent the evening sewing costumes. That’s what happens when the scale of a production gets bigger.
Alternacirque, a circus performing arts collective, will host the fifth annual Festival of Doom through Saturday. What began as small festival of bellydancing and vaudeville humor featuring local performers has increased to four days of acts featuring artists from both coasts.
Brown, an Alternacirque founder, had 53 costumes to prepare for the festival, which began Wednesday. Thus the Sunday-night sewing session.
“That has its own set of new functionality issues,” Brown said of costumes fitted for various body types. “It’s a whole new world for us this year.”
Alternacirque has help this year. Armitage Shanks, a carnival preacher who is something of a legend on the alt-circus circuit, is directing “1001 Arabian Nights,” Alternacirque’s newest production.
“It’s this crazy thing that you get to be friends with your hero,” Brown said. “It’s amazing to have a mentor like that, especially when you’re doing something that nobody for hundreds of miles is doing.”
Alternacirque began working with Shanks on the show in August when he came to Columbia for a two weeks of training. The troupe’s more frequent corporate gigs have allowed it to pay for consultation. The growth pace of the professional company demanded outside evaluation.
“So we don’t implode under the weight of this insane thing that we’re doing,” Brown said.
The production has gotten increasingly bigger and the talent, which now includes a variety of aerialists, has also vastly improved.
“If you haven’t seen Alternacirque in a while, you should,” Brown said. “It’s a whole new ball game.”
Here’s what’s happening during Festival of Doom, with all performances at the CMFA ArtSpace:
“1001 Arabian Nights”: The production is built around Arabian fairy tales, featuring some well-known characters such as Sinbad and Ali Baba. But an introduction to the unfamiliar is why you want to see this family-friendly show. Showtimes: 8 p.m. tonight, 7 p.m. Friday and 2 p.m. Saturday. $20 online, $25 at the door and $50 for V.I.P. tickets, which include snacks, wine, premium seating and a swag bag.
“Undulating Abdomen Bellydance All-Star Showcase of Doom”: Bellydancers and bellydance companies from the Southeast, Chicago and Washington will perform with live accompaniment. The show will be hosted by Madame Onca O’Leary, a character you surely don’t want to miss. Showtime: 9 p.m. Friday. $20 online, $25 at the door, $50 for V.I.P.
“The Burlesque, Sideshow and Circus All-Star Showcase of Doom”: Shanks is hosting the show that features a crowd-pleasing lineup, including Paolo Garbanzo, an accomplished jester, and Sidetracked, a vaudeville comedy duo that likes to steal the show. There will also be a sneak peek of the Henderson Bros. Burlesque, a show that makes its debut on Valentine’s Day, and guests will see what might be in store if they visit “The Dark Cabaret.” This is for mature audiences. Showtimes: 7 and 9:30 p.m. Saturday. $25 online, $30 at the door and $75 for V.I.P.
Reach Taylor at (803) 771-8362.