Wednesday, January 2, 2008

“Suz the Saguaro”


P.S. 12.21.07: “Suz the Saguaro”

Local people, places, travels and simchas Sharon Klein - Special to the AJP

“Suz the Saguaro” in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

“Be a clown, be a clown”As the popular tune continues, “All the world loves a clown.” And we love Susan “Suz” Claas­sen, managing artistic director of the Invisible Theatre, who, for the seventh straight year, has been a clown in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.The first year, after 9/11, Suz’s character was “Funny Firefighter.” She followed the New York Fire Department, and in her words, “lifted the spirits of N.Y.” In the following years, our comic performer was a “Wedding Belly,” “Bathtub Beauty,” “Funny Farm Produce,” “Uptown Doggie Walker,” and “Confetti” clown. This Nov. 22, she was the only Saguaro cactus among the other western-themed clowns.

According to Suz, the parade is a masterpiece of organization, with 800 clowns and 10,000 participants. A clown submits his or her size ahead of time and Macy’s provides the costume, makeup and group captain. Following the event, our parade entrant had the privilege of sharing potluck Thanksgiving dinner with the vice president of Macy’s. “Small world” stories abound, especially in the “Big Apple.” Standing in the security line at the parade, Suz met fellow clown Michael Stoltz of New York, whose father is Tucsonan Saul Stoltz. Along the parade route, Tucsonans Laura and Mike DiChristofano recognized the sole “Saguaro,” stopped her and snapped her photo. And, while “across the pond” this past August, Suz had another “small world” encounter. In Scotland to perform her production of A Conversation with Edith Head at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, she met former Tucsonan Harry Holtzman, a director living in Paris who also had a production in the festival.Claassen, recognized as one of Tucson Lifestyle magazine’s most admired women, summed up her clown experience when she stated, “As an adult, being a clown gives one license to play.” And what better place to play than, as another tune comes to mind, “on the sidewalks of New York.”