Mud Bay Jugglers celebrate 35th anniversary with Olympia show

The Mud Bay Jugglers will perform their 35th anniversary show Saturday in Olympia.
The Mud Bay Jugglers will perform their 35th anniversary show Saturday in Olympia. Courtesy

Once every five years, the Mud Bay Jugglers do a big hometown show, and Saturday is the day.

The jugglers — Alan Fitzthum, Harry Levine and Doug Martin — are known for their sense of humor, their use of eclectic music and their beards. They do about 50 shows a year across the country and in Canada, but it’s rare to catch them on stage in Olympia.

When they do perform the big anniversary shows, the guys pull out all the stops and give away all the proceeds — this time to Olympia Family Theater, in its second season with its own dedicated theater space.

Their February 2011 show raised nearly $9,800 for Encore Arts, an organization that helps to fund and publicize performing and visual arts programs for children.

“Hopefully, we can raise a similar amount for Olympia Family Theater,” Martin said.

“It’s been exciting to prepare for this show, because it’s for our local community,” Martin said Monday. “We always do something a little special at home.”

One special touch this time will be a new routine to a song sung by Levine.

“There’s a great little number that we just finished putting together,” Martin said.

Another addition will be new feats performed with the Juggling Jollies, which represents the next generation of jugglers, quite literally. One of them is Amiel Abadi-Martin, Martin’s son. Also performing will be the Tune Stranglers.

But mostly, Fitzthum, Levine and Martin are still doing what they’ve been doing all these years — mixing juggling with humor and comedy. And being themselves.

“The show isn’t about the tools,” said Martin, who co-founded the group in 1980. “It’s about you, and the tools are just a means of expressing you.”

Added Fitzthum, who joined the group in 1982: “For this 35-year anniversary show, we’re expressing a little bit more of ourselves than we ever have.”

The jugglers believe it’s that focus on something beyond juggling that has given the group its longevity and their show its greater depth.

Speaking of longevity, has aging slowed the jugglers down?

“We’ve made some concessions to age,” Fitzthum said, “but what we’ve done with the characters and performance has offset that and has made the show better than it was when we were younger.

“It’s kind of amazing what we can do,” he added. “There’s something about this juggling endeavor being sort of a fountain of youth.”

Do the jugglers have any secrets to staying young?

Fitzthum runs daily and lifts weights, but mostly, he said, he has good genes. “My dad was very healthy into his 90s,” he said.

Levine, who has been working with the group since 1988 and became a full-time performer in 1995, works out regularly, too.

“I’m the only one who doesn’t,” Martin said. “I’ll probably have to start soon.”


What: The beloved juggling trio, which tours all over the country and to Canada, plays for the hometown crowd in a benefit show for Olympia Family Theater.

When: 7 p.m. Saturday. The lobby opens at 6 p.m.

Where: The Washington Center for the Performing Arts, 512 Washington St. SE, Olympia.

Tickets: $25; $16 for students, seniors and military; $13 for youths 11 and younger.

Information: 360-753-8586, washingtoncenter.org or mudbayjugglers.com.