Page 16                                                     Summer 1989



Tigerpalast Brings Variety Entertainment Back To German Club Scene

by Dick Cuyler



The Tigerpalast in Frankfurt, W. Germany, has now been in operation as a variety theatre for about a year. It is the newest of only three such variety theatres in all of Germany, and is clearly first-rate in all aspects -- decor, appointments, stage and audience. Karl-Heinz Ziethen has been working closely with the producer. Because of Ziethen's acquaintance with so many performers, the theatre can attract the very best variety artists in all of Europe. And the audience loves it. The night I was there in February, the audience seemed knowledgeable and very well-to-do. Owner! manager Johnny Klinke filled in as MC.


Opening the bill was an American, Andrew Allen, who makes his home in West Berlin (See further article in this section). Allen did a flawless devil stick routine which began with very intricate baton twirling with the two handsticks, along with very supple movement. From his back pocket came the stick and the routine. After an entertaining three-ball routine, he did five, six and seven large yellow stage balls. His finale included more twirling, but this time with a staff reminiscent of the Chinese acrobatic troupes. Allen lived in China for six months, learning from acrobats there.


A magician, Finn Tobor, was next. His specialty is smoke, of which he seemed to have an endless supply. He drew it from an average puff or two from a cigar that he squashed in his hand and made disappear. Smoke then emanated from his ear, the collar of his shirt, his cuff, you name it! His finale included blowing smoke into soap bubbles and then deftly doing a cascade with three of them!


Little John, a Dane, amazed the audience with his very slow and controlled acrobatics. Not overtly muscular, his one­arm handstands were astonishing. He began with a press into a handstand, putting his hands on two separate thin metal columns. He lowered his feet into position so they replaced his hands. Then, the two columns began to slowly slide apart, ending in a full split. His assistant then threw him five rings, which he cascaded, then slid back into an upright position once more. His finish included three balls in cups on a mouthstick, one ball between his feet and two rings spinning on his right arm. This was all done while he was in a one­arm handstand! Finally, almost as an afterthought, he again mounted one of the two small platforms and did a back handspring from one to the other, landing once again in a one-arm handstand from which he descended slowly into a one-arm lever! Wow!


During intermission several tables and audience members were moved to the stage so a wire could be strung for Agathe and Antoine, the next act. Thus, their stage was in the midst and over the audience. Their routine was extremely challenging and very balletic. Agathe walked the wire with a parasol "en pointe" to a haunting oboe solo played by Antoine. Whatever they did, rope jumping, splits, changing places with deft footwork, was most pleasing to watch. Then Antoine threw a front somersault and Agathe did a fine head­stand. Solid performers, they clearly enjoyed the risks they took.


The next attraction, Gina Althof, a German antipodist, began her routine rolling, spinning and flipping a long decorated cylinder. Then she did a three ball shower and cascade using hands and feet, followed by a large disc spun flat and on edge, all while showing an infectious vivacity and engaging personality. Her finale began with her assistant lighting four torches mounted on another disk. While she spun this, she added two fire batons for a dramatic finish.

Andrew Allen at the Tigerpalast in Frankfurt (Photo: H. Schulz)

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