There’s been a buzz around town in great anticipation of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus coming to the Richmond Coliseum. Well, it’s here and we had the great fortune to check out the show on opening night, thanks to some tickets provided by Feld Entertainment.
Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey have 3 different versions crisscrossing the country and the theme for Richmond this year is “Legends” and if you’re a super circus fan, you can also catch Circus Xtreme as they pass through Norfolk in April.
We made sure to get there about an hour early (highly recommended), since there is an exciting and free All-Access Pre-Show down on the arena floor, offering about 45 minutes to an hour of fun and interaction with circus performers: clowns, photo ops and even some animals. There were even several opportunities for kids to participate! Our daughter and son decided to observe but really got a kick out of watching the other kids “perform”.
They asked everyone to clear the floor shortly before 7pm and we made our way to our seats, which were already filled by a very cute family who promptly told us they knew they were in the wrong place. Long story short, we ended up swapping with them and moved up several rows, just three rows from the ring! The kids thought it was a very cool upgrade.
The show started in usual fashion with the Star Spangled Banner and a parade of animals and performers gearing up to excite and entertain. I’ve only been to a few circus’s as an adult, but the opening never fails to activate the kid in me.
This is your quintessential circus, the kind you think of when someone says the word: a sequined larger than life Ring Master, tons of clowns and their shenanigans, elephants, dancing dogs, lion tamers and acts of unimaginable human balance and strength.
Highlights for us were the Globe of Steel and the eight, full grown men and their – albeit less than fullsize – motorcycles, crammed into that cage and whirring around at crazy speeds without incident. I wonder how many emergency room visits are required to earn your spot on the team?
Another favorite and heavily featured is the China Acrobatic Troupe. Their incredible acrobatic feats are not to be missed and include the men’s hoop diving and pole jumping and the incredible young women performing a Diabolo “ballet” which will have you mesmerized. If you don’t know what a Diabolo is, you’ll just have to go to the circus and find out!
Of course, one of the kids’ favorites were the performing dogs, and our son’s favorite, performing pigs! For them, nothing beat the hilarity of a Chihuahua and Jack Russell dancing, jumping and fumbling around for laughs. The performance included some very talented poodles, goats, llamas, donkeys and even a couple of kangaroos.
I happen to like the big cats and, honestly, there were a couple of times when I thought the lion would come out on top after all. At one point the “lion tamer” was backed up against the cage by an aggressively advancing lion, and maybe it was staged, but it definitely got my heart thumping, umm and not at all rooting for the lion.
And despite all the controversy regarding the elephants and no matter where you stand on the issue, it is definitely an experience seeing them up close and personal. I for one am glad they will be phased out over the next couple of years and think it was a wise decision. Now perhaps they can concentrate on the conservation of Asian Elephants without the poor karma surrounding their use in shows.
There is so much more to the circus and so many other incredible acts, that you’re really just going to have to go check it out. Be warned though, the concessions are out in full force, both stationary and mobile, so either make sure you’re equipped to concede to your kids’ non-stop requests or lay down the law before arriving!
We thoroughly enjoyed our night out and recommend that you grab some tickets if it’s your kind of thing or if you’ve never been before. I’ll take any opportunity to feel like a kid again!
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