Transcript for Performing 'Siegfried and Roy' takes its toll on the performers, animals: Part 4
There was a production meeting after every show considering sound, staging, and choreography. You're only as good as your next show. What I learned is that the surest way to universal applause is through magic. Rich, poor, middle class, educated, uneducated, magic cuts across all barriers. And if you wonder about Roy, of course he's in the audience with you. They work through thick and thin regardless. Illness, injury, they are there twice a night for the whole duration of the contract period. The guys were getting up in age. Roy was nearing 60, Siegfried was even older and the staff had to be asking, how long can they do this? In the early 2000s, Siegfried & Roy, while under contract and still enjoying enormous success, decide they want to cut back, if you can even say that to just eight shows a week. And yet every night they had a very elaborate and specific routine. Siegfried comes to the theater, something close to 4:00 and Roy soon after that. He prepares himself mentally for the show. I meditate with them before the show. We clean our thoughts. We are very simple together. You could hear the volume of their -- their breathing was like some meditative tantrics, sort of -- I mean, it was fantastic. On a normal night, the show ran like clockwork. Timing is everything from how you turn the animal and what it does. There was no room for error. Everything was timed meticulously, rehearsed and rehearsed. And it was like a fine-tuned car. They literally communicate on stage with a glance. The workload of the show was high and it took its toll on both performers, animals, theater staff. It was a hard show, a very hard show. The stamina of those two guys just floored me. Roy used to swing by one arm out over the audience. He would reappear instantaneously somewhere else. I mean, it's not real magic. He actually has to physically get there. You have to be physically fit and you have to maintain that, and they both did that, religiously. As the show went on, you know, the body breaks down, too. Roy had several knee operations. Siegfried had some physical things, too. One of their vanities is that they're not as tall as you think they are. Therefore, they wore two-inch high heeled shoes, and inside there had lifts. So it was like being a ballerina, I suspect. Roy horn was a slight guy. Roy's size matters for a lot of different reasons. Because every time the tiger does something, and he jumps up on his shoulders, there's gonna be an instability. The tiger's gonna realize that, if I ever wanted to physically dominate this guy, there'd be no problem. Dealing with those cats, 650 pounds, a siberian tiger, tail to nose, standing on your shoulders, I mean, you have to have it together in order to do that. You can't phone it in. It's not like the circus when there's a cage. In Siegfried & Roy there was no such barrier. These majestic, potentially lethal animals were feet away from audience members with nothing in between them. It's pretty incredible. It was an eerie scene to watch how close the cats were to the audience. You could see how sharp their teeth were. And you could see their girth. I've heard of audience members being very, very nervous being up close like that. Over 30 years doing shows 48 weeks a year, Siegfried & Roy managed to put dozens of big cats and lions into a room with people without any bars or walls. None of us ever felt that the public was in danger, ever. Nor did we think that Roy was, because of his knowledge. They are not gonna go after the audience? No. They wouldn't go after the audience, period. No. I'm their security blanket. They know that I would never go with them anywhere where they wouldn't be safe. And they would only be concerned about their own safety. And are you worried when the animals can sense from you that you've been rocky during the day. It would, if I would be rocky. I'm the rock of gibraltar when it comes to my animals. So therefore there's no problem. When we have a bad day we let it out on each other. These are the animals. And the animals they say, "Oh there they go again." See, and you know what I tell them? Don't talk to me like this. I am the endangered species, you know. Breaking news. The tiger that attacked Roy. Officials are reporting that horn was attacked by one of
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