From left to right, Gage Hoase, Alison Diesel, Finn Kiick, Marina DeLow, Jessie Catahoula and Angela Fisher practice their circus routine on land before donning scuba equipment to perform the dress rehearsal underwater Thursday evening. (photo courtesy of Harry Wad)
Blacktip Island scuba enthusiasts this weekend will stage an underwater contemporary circus based on the music of 80s girl band Bananarama off the Diddley’s Landing public pier in an effort to revitalize the small Caribbean island’s flagging tourism industry.
“The tourism sector’s been hammered, what with all the COVID-related border shutdowns,” Club Scuba Doo owner Ham Pilchard said. “We wanted to give locals something to do that’d also pump some money back into the industry. We’re hoping to make it a regular thing to get folks over from Tiperon.
“Gage Hoase was eating a banana outside the store, and I thought, ‘hey, the time’s right for a Bananarama appreciation show,’ Pilchard said. “The cast is dive staffs from all four island resorts, and we got bleachers set up underwater off Diddley’s Landing that’ll hold a hundred spectators, easy. We’re calling in ‘Quirk du Soleil.’”
Participants say the production has broad appeal.
“It’s a bit like Cirque du Soleil in that there’s no animals, and tons of funky gymnastics and posing,” divemaster Alison Diesel said. “It’s all set to Bananarama music, too, so people al all ages should really get into it.
“For the dress rehearsal, we had Dermott Bottoms in throw bar peanuts into the scene to attract fish,” Diesel said. “That rocked, so we’re totally keeping that up going forward. It added an unpredictability to things.”
Critics, however, decried the production.
“One, they’re building underwater structures in a fragile ecosystem,” environmental activist Harry Pickett said. “Two, they’re putting so many people in the water at once it will spook the fish and other wildlife. And three, they’re feeding fish, which is illegal in the Tiperons. They all need to be locked up.”
Pilchard said those concerns were unfounded.
“The bleachers and the stage are out in the sand, well away from any coral and whatnot,” he said. “And the fish got used to all the people in the water pretty quick. As for the feeding, we’re working on getting a hardship variance, on account of this being for the good of the community.”
The cast includes:
- Alison Diesel, Gage Hoase and Marina DeLow from Eagle Ray Cove
- Finn Kiick and Christa Goby from Club Scuba Doo
- Kenny Chromis and Angela Fisher from Sandy Bottoms Beach Resort
- Jessie Catahoula from Blacktip Haven
Proceeds from all Quirk du Soleil performances will be split among island resorts.