Wonderbolt Productions is synonymous with the circus. The creation of Newfoundland's big daddy of clowning, Beni Malone, Wonderbolt was founded in 1978 to produce "one-clown" shows and has since grown into an annual summer circus event for audiences of all ages. In addition, Wonderbolt Productions has worked on the script development and theatrical production of adult comedies such as Sold Out and Uncivil Servants. Since 1997 the Royal Wonderbolt Circus - the flagship performance - has toured the island of Newfoundland, the costal communities of Labrador, the French island of St. Pierre, the Atlantic provinces and is heading further afield to the United States and western Canada. This circus's history is really the story of Beni Malone, clowns, and Newfoundland theatre.
Founder: Beni Malone
Having worked with the Newfoundland Travelling Theatre Company in the 1970s, Beni Malone went to Florida in 1977 and ended up studying at the prestigious Ringling Circus, Barnum and Bailey Clown College. He also studied circus arts at L'École Nationale du Cirque in Paris and commedia dell'arte in Toronto. From 1979-1984 Malone toured with one-clown shows such as Bee-Bop Deluxe, The Sights Before Christmas (an annual Christmas show) and Anatomical Energy. Wonderbolt Productions also staged adult comedies such as Der Cirk Bizzerk, On Edge, and the recent Reunion at Purgatory High. But 1997 marked the entrance of the Royal Wonderbolt Circus onto the theatrical scene in Newfoundland and into the hearts of audiences across the province.
Royal Wonderbolt Circus
Royal Wonderbolt Circus is a fast-paced comedy accompanied by true circus feats such as fire juggling, stilt walking, acrobatics and unicycle riding. The original six-member cast included Beni Malone, Pete Soucy, George Morgan, Malcolm Graham and Kirsty Gillis (in 1999 the latter two performers were replaced by Malone's daughter Annahareo and Liam Walsh). These six intrepid comedians play the Zuma family who decide to form a circus troupe in an attempt to "retrain" because of the poor economic possibilities in Newfoundland and Labrador. The resulting performance is a combination satire, circus, vaudeville and musical theatre. The dynamics of the family form the basis of the loosely-knit storyline (one of the standard jokes is the son who wants to run away from the circus when he grows up), and their trials and tribulations as a "recycled" circus (almost all of the sets, musical instruments and costumes are made from recycled materials) is the hilarious narrative behind the often amazing and always entertaining circus antics. An excellent script combined with vibrant backdrops and suitably amazing and chaotic acrobatics ensures lively and entertaining performances.
The Circus performs in as many outport communities as possible, and travelling to communities all over Newfoundland and Labrador is a major element in the company's mandate. For example, the troupe toured the coast of Labrador in 1998 aboard the motor vessel Northern Ranger. Wonderbolt Productions is dedicated to the training of young performers in theatrical and circus skills, as well as providing a resource for script development and production. Artistic director, lead clown and founder Beni Malone has created a unique theatre experience in Newfoundland while ensuring that the love of the circus continues with new generations.