One of the most unique performances in Philadelphia will be carrying on without its mentor for the first time on Friday, June 23. As they say, the show must go on.
For over 13 years, Squidling Bros., the colorful minds behind “Carnivolution,” used their show to bring the captivating sights of old carnival sideshows to life. While it has been performed at many locations around the city — and even around the country — its home base was the Ellen Powell Tiberino Memorial Museum in Powelton Village. Artist and museum curator Joseph Tiberino, who founded the museum in honor of his late wife, invited the troupe into the property’s backyard in 2004 to do “whatever they wanted.” The June 23 show will be the first “Carnivolution” event since Joseph Tiberino passed away in February.
Despite the absence of perhaps its biggest fan, the man who gave the event its home, there is no doubt that “Carnivolution” will nevertheless amaze audiences. The spirit of carnival sideshows is apparent in the event, with performers doing everything from stepping onto broken glass to Hula-Hooping to spinning fiery batons. Not for the faint of heart, audiences are only a few feet away from the action at all times, enhancing the experience.
“The story is told through puppetry, aerial acrobatics, pyrotechnics and circus sideshow with sketch comedy and live music mixed in,” co-founder and lead performer Eric Broomfield explains.
“Some of my favorite moments have included Matterz Squidling being buried in broken glass, the first time Jellyboy swallowed a rifle during the show, trapeze acts from a tree and Great Grandma Madoodi singing ‘Peggy,’” he says.
As Broomfield’s memories may reveal, “Carnivolution” is not a random smattering of circus acts, but rather has an ongoing storyline. Needless to say, the storyline is just as colorful and off-the-wall as the show itself.
“Currently, the Squidling Bros. are transitioning to the dimension of the Goddess of Ulana Abadod. With the power of the Kidney Stone we attempt to open up a stargate under the water, a water gate,” says Bloomfield.
Past storyline arcs have included everything from space travel to a postapocalyptic Philadelphia being taken over by the Revengers, a CIA superhero group.
If you go:
Friday, June 23
7 p.m., $15
Ellen Powell Tiberino Memorial Museum
3816 Hamilton St.