Following the Old First Night festivities, Theatre of Varieties is bringing the spice of life to Chautauqua at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, August 7, in the Amphitheater as part of the Family Entertainment Series. The performance will feature a juggler, contortionist, ventriloquist and magician — promising a wide range of acts for audience members to enjoy.
Although each entertainer specializes in a different skill, all four started performing at a young age.
Leading the show will be ringmaster Michael Dubois, who will also perform juggling, slackwire and unicycle tricks. For one stunt, the juggler skips rope while bouncing a ball on his head.
“All my stuff is fast-paced and comedy driven, but high skill,” DuBois said.
From Horseheads, New York, DuBois learned to juggle in his middle school gym class.
“When it was too cold to play outside, we would do a two-week juggling segment,” DuBois said. “I’ve been very fortunate to make a career of it since graduating college from Penn State in 2004. It’s taken me all over the world.”
DuBois made a name for himself with appearances on late-night television and a cross-country college tour of a one-man show. For the last five years, he has teamed up with aerialist Viktoria Grimmy for a duo act called “The Great Dubois’.” Grimmy will also perform in Theatre of Varieties, entertaining the audience with her flexibility and hula hoop skills.
Grimmy is a fifth-generation circus performer from Russia who left home at 13 to continue her family trade. Since then, she has performed with the Big Apple Circus, Ringling Brothers and Britney Spears’ Circus Tour. Grimmy has also performed on Broadway in Pippin, and her film credits include “Burlesque” and “The Greatest Showman.”
“Ultimately, the art of the circus is to be able to reach into the soul of everyone and take them out on the ring or stage with them, so you yourself are here performing with me,” Grimmy said in an interview with RealClear. “I find that quite magical.”
Ventriloquist Lynn Trefzger said she is excited to return to the grounds with her talking camel and other felt friends, having previously performed in Smith Wilkes Hall in 2016.
“I’m looking forward to being back,” Trefzger said. “I’m excited to entertain for all ages.”
Although tonight’s performance will mark Trefzger’s Amp debut, it will not be her first time sharing the stage with the her co-stars.
“What’s fun is that I’ve worked with both acts before,” Trefzger said. “I’ve known Michael and Viktoria for a long time, and I just worked with David (Boyd) recently.”
Trefzger picked up her first puppet at 9 years old and booked her first gig when she was 10. Having now ventriloquized for 40 years, she performs on Disney cruises and at corporate events, modeling many of her current characters on her five children.
Trefzger said part of her act for Theatre of Varieties will involve audience participation, with one audience member acting as her “human dummy.” She will also bring along her puppet sidekick, Simon, and a “precocious character” named Chloe.
Finally, magician and illusionist David “Kid Ace” Boyd will dazzle Chautauquans with a performance that fuses hip-hop music and fashion.
“I infuse that into magic just to give people a different experience than what they may associate a magician with,” Boyd said. “From what I believe and have seen, people are more in tune to it because it keeps them on their feet.”
Boyd said his flair developed from his upbringing in Harlem, New York, where the magician learned his first trick at age 12 from his theater teacher.
“For me, magic and illusion is more than just a passion,” Boyd said. “It’s an escape from reality. I can truly express myself and all my insecurities go away. For me, it’s the one thing that truly empowers me.”
Boyd has since toured everywhere from the Bahamas and Netherlands to Australia and Japan. In addition to a private performance for Madonna, the magician did a one-man show “Underground Magic” at the Elektra Theatre in Times Square in 2012.
Boyd also performed on the third season of “America’s Got Talent” and was recently featured on “Bill Nye Saves the World.” The magician said he has a “love-hate relationship” with television.
“The hours are so long, and you’re in their world, and you’re working in their environment, but the product is amazing when you get it,” Boyd said.
Boyd said that he loves performing for families because he credits his own family for his success.
“The reason that I am able to do all of this touring and am able to live my dream is because of my parents,” he said. “I’m forever grateful for them for helping me believe that I could truly, truly do this.”