Friday, July 13, 2007

The Circus of Dreams?

Ringling Brothers is back in town - this time with the circus re-imagined (or so the ads tell us) - it is now "The Circus of Dreams" - and all I can say is, if this is a dream WAKE ME UP!

I love the circus - yep - I am one of those folks who just can't get enough of it... My Dad always took us to "that side of town" when the old "Clyde Beatty/Cole Brothers Circus" came to Binghamton, NY (where I grew up). There was the "Parade of the Elephants" to the field to set up the big Red and White tent. There of course was the freaky side show with the electric man and the bed of nails and the tattooed Lady, World's Smallest and World's Tallest Men, on and on... And then the show in the big top - the spectacle, the flash, the pretty woman dressed in feathers and sequins perched high above - it was magical!!!

Years later we continued to go - be it Ringling Bros in our local arena, or Circus Vargas behind downtown, or any number of traveling shows that were chased closely behind by PETA... But the magic of the circus lived within me - My brother and I even had our own traveling show (from the basement to the backyard mind you) - "Manouse & Manouse brothers Circus" - oh we had some amazing acts: "Professor Glasses," "Swami the Lami," and my brother on the "Low Wire"(a tight wire act done on the dog's rope laid across the ground), even a clown - we always had to have a clown...

Why just last year, I got up at 5:30am on a Saturday, loaded up the car with coffee and donuts and drove to Clear Lake to watch Carson & Barnes Circus set up their tent - with the help of an elephant!!! The show was great fun and the day will be a memory I will cherish - I mean really - how many more opportunities will I have to see a Circus tent erected with the help of an elephant - a dying art I tell you - dying!

So when our good friend Kathy asked if we wanted to go see the new Ringling Bros "Circus of Dreams" on opening day here in Houston (also her birthday), how could I say NO! But, maybe I should have!

Some things need to just stay as they are - respect tradition - a cat is a cat, trying to make it more like a dog doesn't make it a dog, but now it is no longer a great cat either. With the on slot of Cirque du Soleil redefining Circus, Ringling is trying everything (well actually Kenneth Feld) to keep this traveling show fresh and "modern" - but I think he has lost a lot of what I so loved about the show... and don't think I am just jaded - the 6 year old boy sitting next to me turned, tapped me on my arm and said "This is the most boring circus I have ever seen" - and I would have to agree...

Gone were the three rings, gone was the spectacle, gone was the excitement, as each act seemed more like they were trying out for "America's Got Talent" then being showcased at "The Greatest Show on Earth!"

And not all of the fault is on Feld, a lot has to go to the fall of the soviet empire - the endless suppliers of classic circus acts - now we still have Mexico and South America, and of course Asia to supply us with aerialists and tumblers - but I think something is being lost in this old world art as our new world spreads cross the globe.

I'm not sure how much the tickets actually are - but I can tell you this - they are too much! Save your money on this edition of RB&BB Circus and go find a smaller, more amazing traveling show - and wait for the next "re-invention" of "The Greatest Show on Earth" - and maybe next time they will just let a cat be a cat, and it will be the best, most talent cat we have ever seen!


Jennifer Grassman said...

How sad! The thing I always liked about the circus was the quirkiness and nostalgia )o: I agree. Going to a circus without the traditional shocking acts of daring is like drinking alcohol free beer. There's no point! (o:

Jim said...

We chatted about the circus during your last visit to Chicago and I told you that I had family members who performed in a circus. My grandmother was Harriet Hodgini. Here's a link to a website dedicated to the Hodgini Family Circus. I think you'll find it interesting since it harkens back to the circus (I think) you long for.
(cut and paste this link)