Big Top Still Dazzles … if you’re 5 years old.


Michael Hogan

The circus is in town. The Big Apple Circus, to be exact. The big top has been raised on the plaza at Government Center, the funnel cake and cotton candy are ready to be eaten, and the children are eager to view the wonders that are held inside.

Remember when you were a kid and the circus would come to town? The euphoria. It was a magical time of innocence and joy. Well, I’m not going to lie to you, as you grow older some of that feeling wears off. You find that you’re not nearly as excited as you used to be when you sit in those plastic seats surrounded by so many screaming children. But, you go through it anyway because you know that somewhere in that tent lies something that makes the trip through the pouring rain all worth it.

If you’ve got a young one somewhere that you could take with you, do it. They will love it. You will be their best friend forever, or at least until Hannah Montana releases a new album. The Big Apple Circus is presented as a trip back in time, a journey into recreations of the past, the boardwalk, carnivals, the beach.

There is a certain charm and elegance to the show, a strange sort of grace. There are trapeze artists who flying high over the heads of delighted, wide-eyed, children. There are clowns who bring squeals of laughter with their slapstick routines. A troupe of dogs who enchant the crowd with tricks of every variety, jumping rope, walking tightropes, comedy. The only other animals in the show are horses, which put on a short routine that consists mostly of changing directions as they walk around the ring, nothing too spectacular.

There are a few bright spots in the show; a few things that will make the adults feel as if the few hours beneath the Big Top were not a complete waste of time. Justin Case is a man with a French accent who rides bicycles and makes balloon animals. I have to admit, he is pretty darn funny. With his clever way of choosing volunteers, to the balloon-twisting contest, to the bike that falls apart, he is one of the highlights of the show.

There is also the Zhengzhou Troupe, a group of acrobats whose artistry helps drag the show into the future. Bouncing around in huge steel wheels in the first half and swinging from long wooden poles in the second, they are grace and style at its best.

Overall, the circus is as it always has been, a place for children. It is a wonderful world apart from the filthy one outside of the gates, but it is a world that fails to wow anyone over the age of ten, or twelve maybe.

The Big Apple Circus continues its run on the Government Center plaza until May 6. If you love cotton candy, or funnel cake, or if you really want to be surrounded by screaming children who will laugh at anything at all, then make your way down to the Big Apple Circus and check out the show under the big top. Otherwise, there a plenty of decent movies out there, waste a couple of hours someplace quiet and go see one.