Many people come to the circus to see animals do tricks, but the humans performed the most amazing stunts in the new show by Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus called “Fully Charged.”
The production, which opened Thursday and lasts through Sunday in the arena at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, is as loud as any circus with a six-piece live band and the sounds of cheering children, but it is even more colorful. The fully charged theme gave the creators the excuse periodically to dim the lights and display either day-glow outfits, equipment or both.
An hour before the show, everyone in the arena is invited to take part in a preshow tour to meet the performers, try on costumes and see the circus animals up close.
While the lower level of Boardwalk Hall was crowded for the Thursday night performance, the arena’s upper deck was mostly empty.
The circus didn’t just attract children and their parents. There were adults in the audience who wanted to experience something they never did as a child.
Neither Maria Rodriguez nor Gretchel Vila, both 23 and Atlantic City residents, had ever seen a live circus performance. Besides the show itself, they loaded themselves up with popcorn, a hat, cotton candy and a flavored snow-cone. They both took pictures of the motorcycle act with their camera phones.
“It’s different in person. The strongman, I thought it was fake until he dropped it (the log),” Vila said.
The show itself starts with a bang as ringmaster Dave Shipman slides down a rope into the center of the ring to kick off the evening.
Audience members who purchase tickets to see animals perform will not be disappointed as two camels, two horses and two ponies come out and walk in circles around the ring. Eventually, the ponies walk underneath the two camels whose front legs are standing on a box.
The Smaha Jugglers dazzled the crowd with the ability to flip juggling pins among three people. At one point, a woman stood on a man’s shoulders, and they were still tossing pins amongst themselves.
One of the more awe-inspiring feats of the show is performed by the Vavilov Troupe, a six-man acrobatic troupe from Russia. One of them jumps from a swinging, raised, glass platform about 3-feet high and lands standing on a mat held by three of his teammates.
Mr. Power balances what looks like a 30-foot wooden log on his back that has a woman hanging off each side of it on a swing.
The Lopez Family from Mexico and Chile did a couple of different jaw-dropping stunts during the course of the show. They had two motorcycle riders zipping around a 12-foot diameter, 1-ton globe of steel while a woman stood in the middle of them. They come back later in the show and do a high-wire bicycle act.
Even the mime was talented as he juggled three lit torches, played the drums and tap danced during his time on stage.
The animals were more impressive during the second half of the show as little dogs came out and jumped over obstacles and jumped rope. Two elephants came out and slowly maneuvered their massive bodies to the commands of their trainer.
The use of animals in the circus brought out close to a dozen protesters with signs for the first show of the four-day engagement.
Lauren Pack, 26, of Somers Point, a member of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, was one of the people standing outside Boardwalk Hall. Pack said she wanted to help educate others with what’s going on with the circus.
“I’m speaking up for animals because they can’t speak for themselves,” Pack said.
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