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Having recently finished a novel that takes place in a circus (Water for Elephants), my curiosity for circus history was peaked. All of the various mergers were barely enough to keep the circus business alive and today we're pretty much left with one show: Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey.

So that's how I found myself at the Pepsi Center on a Saturday afternoon to see "The Greatest Show on Earth". I last saw this show back in 2009 and enjoyed it more than I expected then. The show has stayed mostly the same with typical circus acts: trapeze, acrobats, clowns, elephants, big cats, and the more modern motorcycles racing inside a metal sphere. Thankfully absent are the tight wire and human cannonball acts.

I guess due to all the consolidations, there is a lot of bloat. Let me give you some examples. One: they still have a full live band performing. Most people probably don't even recognize this. Recorded music would work just fine I think. Next, each troop of performers is twice as big as it needs to be. I seem to remember that a trapeze act used to be 2, maybe 3 brothers. Then they bring in their sisters and then add the cousins. Now such an act has 10+ performers. This applies to the Chinese acrobats and clowns too. I only need to see one guy do a triple back-flip with twist to be impressed. 9 more guys doing the same thing just cheapens it. Then there's 10 big cats, 6 elephants, 8 horses, plus the menagerie: goats, lamas, dogs, donkeys, pigs, and even kangaroos. Many of these are only on stage for a few minutes to do one trick. It's a wonder they can feed all these animals.

Well, I'm no circus manager so who am I to say this is all a waste? I guess the excess is part of the appeal. Us "rubes" don't want to see a scaled back show.

Circus Vargas

on 2014-10-06 11:00 pm (UTC)
ext_277005: (Default)
Posted by [identity profile]
Just recalled that as kids, my dad took us to Circus Vargas. They actually have a big top tent and setup in a local mall parking lot. I'm pleased to learn that that show is still running!

April 2017


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