The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus is currently performing at the Coliseum in Hampton, VA through April 20, 2014. In our area for its annual tour, it stopped at Norfolk’s Scope the week previously for shows from April 8 – 13.
Those desiring to gain the full measure of the show needed to be by the animal enclosures at 6:00 p.m. with tickets in hand to garner a closer look at many of the animal celebrities who would be performing a little later in the evening. Children and adults alike were thrilled to get within a few yards of lions, tigers, horses, goats, llamas, wallabies and a group of playful elephants.
Moving to the indoors for the 6:30 p.m. pre-show was most welcome due to the cool, brisk wind blowing outdoors Thursday evening. Those with programs were encouraged to gain autographs from performers who were in the staging area. Any of the children who ventured out to the stage could have their pictures taken with them, receive a temporary tattoo proclaiming The Greatest Show on Earth, wear an outfit that a performer might wear and receive their very own clown nose – free.
Moving to your reserved seats prior to the 7:30 p.m. starting time allowed you to be ready for the grand entrance of Ringmaster Johnathan Lee Iverson to the tune of “Jump.” It was an apropos opening for the spirited storyteller of this year’s Legends circus experience. Paulo, the Legend seeker, enters with him and is a major player throughout the show.
Iverson led the crowd in the singing of the National Anthem, accompanied by a live orchestra. As honor was being given to our great nation, one of the beautiful women performers carried an American flag while riding a huge elephant.
Afterwards, the show began with a parade-walk similar in nature to that of the Olympics, where all – or most all- of the performers took a walk around the ring, waving to the crowd, in anticipation of performing for them. The variety of styles and colors of clothing, as well as the multi-cultural unity presented by the group, gives one hope for a world of unity one day.
The two acts most comparable in terms of raw courage and nerves of steel are almost an antithesis of each other. No doubt, any person willing to stand in an enclosure with seven lions and tigers with only a bullwhip to protect himself must exude the “Alpha” persona throughout the act. Asking not one, but two, of these beautiful, wild beasts to give you a kiss and trusting you will step back with your head intact, much less your lips, is surely not an act of cowardice.
The act most comparable to that would have to be the Amazing Acceleration act of the Torres family. Beginning with 3 motorcycles all but flying around a globe of steel, the act builds to having 8 cyclists revving around the globe at the same time, sometimes coming within four inches of each other. The timing for such an act must be to the nearest milli-second and does not allow for anything less than the performer’s complete attention.
Unlike most circuses attended in the past, there seemed to be far fewer “hawkers” moving up and down the steps while the performances were occurring. For those with children in attendance, that must have been a welcome difference as it allowed for one’s attention to be on the ring and not on what was for sale.
The accompanying list will showcase some of the scenes from Legends, the latest production of The Greatest Show on Earth.