In 1983 Steve Russell was working the Renaissance fair circuit as a comedic performer throughout the country. One night in Texas heand some fellow performers spent the night at a restaurant their friend owned.
In the morning, the cops found them and didn’t believe the “hippie looking” performers actually had permission to sleep there. And, of course, their friend was unreachable, Russell recalled with a chuckle.
During his life on the road for 35 years as a performer Russell has racked up more than one story like this. Despite “always being innocent,” he’s no stranger to encounters with the police, he said. After his friends and family encouraged him to do so, Russell will tell some of those stories in his newest show, “The Casual Suspect.”
“We all have stories to tell,” Russell said of the show that he described as having an overall comedic tone. “I’m very much looking forward to it. It’s frightening, it’s fun and it’s going to be a good night out.”
The roughly hour-long show will be performed for one night only at 7 p.m. April 19 at Grand Theater. Russell’s plan is to put his latest one man show out there and see what people think before refining it and continuing to perform it elsewhere.
Although he’s no stranger to taking center stage by himself, this one-man show is much different than what Russell is used to. This time he won’t be juggling, doing magic tricks or fire eating like he’s been known to do.
Russell, 56, originally hails from Menomonie and now lives near Colfax. Russell grew up going to circuses with his parents. By the time he was 15, juggling became his favorite hobby and gave him a sense of purpose, he said.
He knew, if it was possible, he wanted to make a career out of performing. So when he arrived at clown college in Florida after graduating from high school, Russell felt like he finally found his lot in life.
“It was amazing and life changing,” he recalled.
Since then he’s spent his life performing in circuses, at Renaissance fairs, at Disney World and on cruise ships that brought him to 65 different countries.
Based on his previous experiences his upcoming show is much more stripped down and personal. He hopes the audience can relate to some of the stories he shares and enjoys a night of entertainment.
If all goes well, he’ll take this show on the road too, and amass more life stories.