Known mostly for their juggling, the Flying Karamazov Brothers have created “Sharps, Flats, and Accidentals” to show off their considerable skills as musicians, acrobats, and dancers. With their hysterical blend of precision and anarchy, the Brothers set out to create “visual music” through the wildly imaginative interplay of such musical instruments as juggling pins, balls, fans, hats, and more.
Amid all the flying bodies and debris, the four Karamazovs maintain a witty repartee among themselves and the audience. Among the more wonderful juggling pieces is “Jazz,” in which they compare a group of jugglers to a jazz quartet. The most delightful of the non-juggling pieces is the “Pas de Six” ballet from Rossini’s “Guillame Tell,” featuring much fancy footwork and exotic hand movements.
The Karamazovs take time out from their musical agenda to offer their classic piece, “The Gamble,” in which Brother Ivan, also known as the Champ, accepts the challenge of juggling any three items offered up by the audience so long as the items weigh less than 10 pounds and are no bigger than a breadbox (live animals excluded). At a recent performance the pieces selected were a raw chicken, a piece of layer cake, and a bagpipe.
The musical selections range from Beethoven, Bach, and Mozart to Cole Porter and W.C. Handy. Several of the pieces are by Howard Jay Patterson, who also happens to be Ivan Karamazov. Additional contemporary contributions are from Douglas Wieselman.
Doug Elkins is credited with creating the delightfully silly ballet choreography for the Rossini piece and Susan Hilferty accepts responsibility for the tights and tutus. Stan Pressner’s lighting adds to the festivities.
The Karamazovs are performing the New York premiere of “Sharps, Flats, and Accidentals” at the New Victory Theater, the recently renovated children’s theater in Times Square. Kids at the reviewed performance seemed enthralled by the juggling, dancing, and general cavorting, becoming restless only when the setups went on too long.