Page 21                                               Summer 1996

Juggling Legends Lead Lucas to be his own Champion


The world of show business around him has changed drastically since four-year­

old Albert Lucas appeared on stage holding a ball in one hand, spinning hoops on an arm and leg, and juggling two rings with the other hand.


Now Lucas is 36. Ice Capades is bankrupt and Ed Sullivan has gone on to his reward. The demand for classical "flash" juggling acts like Lucas's has waned as the public's appetite for comedy jugglers and team acts has increased. Very few big production shows in Las Vegas have live orchestras any more, and the demise of the Soviet Union has released an influx of Eastern bloc performers to compete for the remaining spots in the industry. The increased talent pool has also forced salaries down.


But instead of resisting the trend away from his training, Lucas has met the challenges of a changing entertainment environment and maintained his status as one of the art's foremost champions. The IJA honored his accomplishments with its Award of Excellence at the summer festival in Rapid City.


Three factors weighed heavily in his success - an early start, good coaching from his father, Albert Moreira, and interminable practice. His standard seven-minute stage routine includes 2,500 tosses, and usually no drops. That kind of discipline is expected of those born to show business, and was carefully nurtured from an early age by Moreira, who was himself a show business veteran.


Moreira was a founding member of Los Gattos (Nick Gatto was also a member), and this famous acrobatic act toured the world for many years. From Royal Command performances to Vegas night clubs, major television shows and opening acts for film stars, the lifestyle provided Moreira the opportunity to meet and work with many of the legendary jugglers of the mid-twentieth century.


Albert began juggling at age three and was on stage at four. From the beginning he listened eagerly to his father's stories about great jugglers like Rastelli, Serge Flash, Jenny Jaeger, Ernest Montego, Bobby May, Trixie and Francis Brunn, and was inspired by their achievements. He was curious to know everything about them - how many rotations did Rastelli throw? Why didn't Serge Flash have a knob on the end of his stick? As he grew and came to better understand his father's career and the grandeur of juggling in the previous generation, he became resolved to keep the legacy alive.


He practiced up to six hours a day in those early years and performed with many of the small tent circuses touring the US during the 1960s. Moreira then felt his son was ready for the next step, and he parlayed an old promise from Liberace's manager into a three-year world tour for his son with the famous pianist.


Lucas's association with the IJA began with his first convention in 1969, where his skills were greatly admired. But the impression was overwhelming the next year, when 10-year-old Lucas won the numbers championship in Los Angeles by juggling seven rings for 61 seconds!


In 1971 he signed his first Las Vegas contract, and became the youngest performer ever to appear with the Folies Bergere at the Tropicana Hotel. He was so beloved by Vegas audiences that "Fabulous" magazine crowned him as Variety Act of the Year.


During that time, a representative of Ice Capades invited Lucas to join that globe­trotting troupe, if he could translate his act to ice! He accepted the challenge to try, and spent many eight hour days practicing the skill for which he would prefer to be remembered. He ended up touring with Ice Capades for 10 years, meeting dignitaries and show business stars all over the globe. One evening in Cleveland, Ohio, Albert's father invited Bobby May, another great skating juggler, to see his son perform. Backstage after the show May paid his old friend the highest compliment by calling young Albert "Rastelli on ice."


At age 16 backstage after a show Lucas flashed 10 rings for his father, who promptly asked him to do it again. Shortly thereafter he was doing eight and nine in his act. His greatest technical on-ice achievement was balancing on one ice skate, spinning two hoops on his right leg, balancing a ball on a mouth stick and juggling nine rings for the cycle.


He left Ice Capades in 1982 to settle on the smaller rink at the Hacienda Hotel in Las Vegas. He had performed in Vegas as an opening act several times during his eight­weeks off between Ice Capades tours, but the "Fire & Ice" show at the Hacienda was his first full-time night club ice show.


He was doing tricks on ice that few jugglers could do on solid ground. It began with 30 seconds of seven rings. It continued with four tennis rackets with tosses over the shoulder, four split, two high with a pirouette, five rackets with a toss under the leg, four scarves, and a comedy routine with three ping pong balls. He followed that with three clubs, then seven balls tossed into a billiard pocket belt. The final catch involved a quadruple pirouette. His penultimate routine was the self­described "garbage trick," spinning a beach ball on a mouth piece, hoop spinning on the right arm, ball spinning on a finger, three hoops juggled with the left hand and a hoop spinning on the left leg. He concluded the act with three torch juggling.

Practicing hurdle joggling with Kris Akabusi, bronze medalist in the 400 meter hurdles in the 1988 Olympics.

Practicing hurdle joggling with Kris Akabusi, bronze medalist in the 400 meter hurdles in the 1988 Olympics.

Albert shows an early version of the "garbage" trick at age five.

Albert shows an early version of the "garbage" trick at age five.

The combination trick became more complex as Lucas grew up.

The combination trick became more complex as Lucas grew up.

Spinning a hoop on a leg, balancing and flashing nine at age 18.

Spinning a hoop on a leg, balancing and flashing nine at age 18.

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