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NY Acting Markets: Variety

Newcomers to New York whose entertainment skills don't quite match the requirements of traditional plays or musicals can still find a wide range of opportunities to perform. It may be the age of YouTube videos and reality TV, but in New York, at least, live variety shows continue to provide numerous outlets for clowns, jugglers, acrobats, burlesque performers, and others. You just have to know where to look.

For circus performers—in addition to the city's home-grown Big Apple Circus—there's Circus Amok, a circus and theater group, which produces free shows with a political or social theme every year in city parks. Le Masquerade Productions presents both Cirque le Masque, a touring European-style circus, and Le Masquerade Limited, which produces interactive and stage shows. If clowning is your thing, check out the New York Downtown Clown Monthly Revue and the open-application New York Clown Theatre Festival, which will be presented by the Brick Theater in September. Newly arrived jugglers will find numerous places to pass the clubs, including Manhattan's Carmine Street Jugglers and Brooklyn's Jugglers Anonymous, based at the Pratt Institute. Pratt is also home this year to Juggle This!, the ninth annual New York juggling festival, running April 8–11, where jugglers from around the world will gather to practice, learn, and perform. Finally, actors who'd like to beef up the special skills section of their résumé can find a variety of circus classes at New York Circus Arts in Long Island City, Queens.

Cruise lines are always looking for multitalented performers to entertain their guests, from singers and dancers to acrobats and other specialty acts. Getting paid to perform while traveling around the world by cruise ship sounds like a pretty good deal, and it just so happens that many of the companies that book cruise performers—including Jean Ann Ryan Productions, Carnival Cruise Lines, Crystal Cruises, Disney Cruise Line, and Celebrity Cruises—hold open auditions in New York. Check the casting notices in Back Stage.

If you're looking for an offbeat path to extra money, the business of singing telegrams, birthday party entertainers, and other unique services is still around. I Luv a Party in Stamford, Conn., for example, provides party entertainment to the tristate area and is always seeking singers, magicians, clowns, belly dancers, and others. One New York company, Preppygrams, has even jumped on the "Rickrolling" fad, with messengers performing their best rendition of '80s pop star Rick Astley's infamous song-and-dance for stunned patrons. So there's a niche for every talent in the Big Apple.

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