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Cirque du Horror runs successfully spooky ninth annual performance

Cirque du Horror runs successfully spooky ninth annual performance

Musicians performing music during the horror-themed performance, Cirque du Horror, at Dan's Silverleaf. Cirque du Horror is meant to portray a simpler time of youth and a time of make believe. Dan's Silverleaf hosts this performance during the month of October. Victoria Nguyen

Cirque du Horror runs successfully spooky ninth annual performance
October 31
13:20 2017

A mysterious man with his face painted red comes out to the stage, reciting frightening lines. The genius and mastermind with sharp horns sent shivers down spines as the show began to start.

David J. Pierce introduced himself as the composer and director of the Cirque du Horror show at Dan’s Silverleaf, marking the ninth year of the production.

The show kicked off with the iconic character, Grampula, reciting jokes and witty banter.

“Why didn’t the skeleton cross the road?” the fanged marvel asked. “He didn’t have the guts.”

The joke sent the observing crowd into a fit of laughter as the first act of the performance commenced.

Members of the audience seemed to be discerning differences between this year and last year, while others were in awe, watching the play for the first time.

“We’ve come four or five times, each year consecutively, and here we are this time too,” said Steve Hamlen, an attendee and Denton resident. “There are different scenes and skits each year. It’s like old theater style.”

Hamlen is friends with some of the cast and Pierce, and he knows a few behind-the-scenes secrets about the play that was still unfolding.

“There are some new things this year, and one of those is the crank,” Hamlen said. “It’s [basically] this big contraption that spins and shows a bunch of spooky art done by some really talented artists in the area.”

The crank showed a chilling representation of children being trapped in a snow globe after envying the carousel inside. The art was terrifying yet beautifully enticing, and the audience couldn’t help but gawk at the spectacle.

“Pierce is a genius,” Hamlen said. “This is his show. He writes and directs it, and he changes it every year.”

Jackie and Bret Fenster were both enjoying the show for the first time on a whim. They were so captivated that they ended up watching the entire production.

“We’ve been to the Day of the Dead festival a few times, but this is our first time watching this show,” Bret said. “For $30 — why not? We got here and quickly realized we couldn’t leave. The show had our attention.”

The acoustics of the venue were perfect for the orchestra playing along with the production. The Fensters were happy with the noise levels.

“[Dan’s Silverleaf] always gets really good talent, and the sound is always impeccable,” Bret said. “A lot of bars are too loud, [but] here you can actually enjoy the show and have a good time. The music isn’t painful here.”

Grampula entered the fray again, interacting with the audience and keeping everybody occupied while the cast reset the stage.

“What did the little girl say to the leaving vampire?” Grampula asked, pausing to build up to the punchline. “So long, sucker.”

When the show drew to a close, the actors and several of the musicians took off into the crowd, speaking with their audience and being showered with praise.

Actor Jeffrey Barnes, a friend of the Fensters, took the stage for the first time in the show this year. He played the god of the dead, Anubis.

“This is my third year with the show, but most years I sing with others in the pit,” Barnes said. “I had not been on stage until now. I loved it — being on stage was marvelous.”

Barnes is a fan of Pierce’s work and enjoys getting to work so closely with him.

“The show is always different because David Pierce is brilliant,” Barnes said. “This is his baby, and he does a terrific job. He’s a wonderful composer.”

Barnes usually sings at the Holiday Lighting Festival on the Square — another project Pierce has worked on in the past.

Creative inspiration can be drawn from any facet of an individual’s life. However, being limited to certain boundaries — such as themes of a holiday like Halloween — can sometimes hinder the creative process.

“In the conception of the event, I tried to write a new show every year,” Pierce said. “You get older and things happen and suddenly I realized I don’t have the time for anything anymore like I used to.”

Pierce is a new father to an eight-month-old baby. Becoming a parent has opened a new realm of inspiration that he had never experienced before.

“I didn’t know how much being a dad would consume me,” Pierce said. “I’m lucky enough to live in an area with such talented musicians and dancers. They really help me out, too.”

And while a bar might not be first place one would expect to go to see a play, Dan’s Silverleaf is the perfect venue for how Pierce envisioned his show.

“A place like Dan’s is great not only because of my love for [owner] Dan Mojika and the people here, but he gave me a venue when I barely had a show,” Pierce said. “So until I get a red and white striped circus tent, I’m not moving.”

Featured Image: Musicians perform during the horror-themed performance, Cirque du Horror, at Dan’s Silverleaf. Cirque du Horror is meant to portray a simpler time of youth and make-believe. Dan’s Silverleaf hosts this performance during October. Victoria Nguyen

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Austin Wagner

Austin Wagner

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