Volume 96, Issue 89
Wednesday, March 19, 2003

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Izzy the adults only clown shoots her Tongue at The Grand

By Dale Wyatt
Gazette Staff

Gary Mulcahey
"HEY HEY HEY KIDS. IT'S IZZY THE CLOWN!" Shannan Calcutt brings her alter-ego Izzy the Clown to The Grand Theatre to perform Burnt Tongue.

If Stephen King didn't scare you off clowns forever with his horrific novel-turned-movie It, then you might want to check out London's Grand Theatre this weekend, as the one-clown performance Burnt Tongue slides on through.

Burnt Tongue, an "adults only" performance, is the first show of a trilogy that revolves around Izzy the Clown, played by Shannan Calcutt.

Tongue follows Izzy as she waits in anticipation to meet up with a man she has come into contact with over the Internet. Izzy, who shows up in a wedding dress and bright red nose, tells the audience all about herself, as she waits nervously for her mystery man.

"It is a clown show, but it isn't clown in the traditional sense of tripping over [things]," explains Calcutt, who both wrote and stars in the show.

Although there is a script for the show, Calcutt says that a large portion is always open to improvisation.

"About 80-90 per cent of the show is scripted," Calcutt says. "[But] it changes every time."

One of the most difficult aspects of doing clown is that you can never be sure what material really works well until you have performed it before an audience, Calcutt explains.

"With clown you don't know what works until you are in front of the audience. So, the Fringe Festivals are a great place to work on and develop your material," she explains.

The name of this performance, Burnt Tongue, actually has nothing to do with the show's content.

"[Burnt Tongue] was originally the name of a different show that I was going to perform, but then decided not to. Then I changed my mind and wrote this [show], but [Burnt Tongue] had already been printed in this festival program, so it was too late to change it. After that it just kind of stuck," Calcutt admits.

Calcutt, who grew up with clown idols like Carol Burnett and Lucille Ball, also admits that, when people discover she is a performing clown, most people instantly assume that she is a birthday clown. This, however, is definitely not the case.

"Most people think I am a birthday clown when I tell them what I do. There are a few more educated people out there that know better though," Calcutt says.

People who choose to attend the show should be prepared for some surprises. One lucky audience member might actually get a chance to help Izzy practice kissing.

"I really enjoy playing off of the audience. With clown there isn't that wall between you and your audience. The audience is part of the show."

Izzy the Clown performs Burnt Tongue Thursday to Saturday at The Grand Theatre. Tickets are $18 and the show is at 8 p.m.. Call The Grand Theatre box office at 672-8800 for more details.


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