Droves of families snaked down Louisville's streets last night to witness opening night of Ringling Brothers' Circus at KFC Yum! Center. Despite the lack of sunshine, tiny eyes sparkled outside ogling at the giant billboard proclaiming "The Greatest Show on Earth" was minutes away, just inside the bustling building. As my family made our way to our seats, I scanned the thick audience in every direction wondering if any kids were actually at home. It seemed the entire audience, my family included had "circus fever" anticipating the infamous show that hasn't played in Louisville since 1995.
The theme of the performance, "Fully Charged" began when two clowns plugged-in a giant electrical plug, symbolizing the show's inception. From that moment on, we were immersed in lights and artistic acts--at many times it was difficult to decide where to focus the eyes with so much stimulation abuzz at once. All performers made their way to the ring during the theme-song "Fully Charged" bouncing, flipping, dancing, or atop a pachyderm. The ring was truly alive, despite the incredibly corny, garish song.
What followed were a myriad of acts including acrobatics, clown skits, animal- taming shows, jugglers, high-wire acts, and a giant cross-bow that launched a man across the ring. On fire.
The highlights of the night, in my humble opinion, were the human acts. At one point, the rings looked like the floor of the U.N. (a very limber and freakishly-talented one). Asian acrobats effortlessly scurried up ropes, flipped over-top each other, Latin-American jugglers and tight-rope acts out-did one another, and my personal favorite, two 300-lb. Uzbekistanian brothers tossed each other around in Gladiator costumes (that act was worth the money right there). A few of the clown skits really engaged the crowd, but many were fillers while the big-acts prepped for the stage. My husband was disappointed they didn't have the sad, Chaplin-style clowns of the past, instead replaced with chipper clowns clad in day-glow, but nonetheless, they were also talented in what they do.
The 9 elephant acts were just as I remembered them as a kid, the horse-training circles guided 12 horses and 4 zebras to trot in beautiful form, and then 14 tigers were made diminutive by the trainer and his whip (then he kissed one on the mouth). Not that the animal acts weren't a sight to see, I just prefer the human kind that joined the circus by choice. When asked for their favorite part, however, my 3-year-old proclaimed, "I loved the zebras, elephants, tigers, and all the animals," so who am I to judge a circus, anyway. My son loved the, "Guy on fire that flew through the sky."
Worth the ticket price, you may ask? I think, yes. This circus does not pass through town often and the collective energy inside the arena, even on a dark and chilly Thursday night, was exciting. I enjoyed the nostalgia of the circus as many aspects haven't changed for generations. They all still live, practice, and travel together on a train. Performers, vendors, and floor-crew alike were truly like a synergistic family running their, well, circus, without a hitch. These people obviously train for hours to put on the so-called Greatest Show on Earth and who knows how far they've traveled to show off their pretty-amazing talents.
The downside? Hands-down the music. In between acts, the Ringmaster belts out show-tune-esque narrative songs that will worm their way deep into your brain. My husband woke up singing, "Fully Charged" before coffee this morning. But maybe that's exactly what littles dig, like I said before, I'm no professional circus-judge. All-in-all a memorable experience and I'm glad I was able to share it with my children.
Tickets are still available for performances Friday night, three shows on Saturday, and the last show on Sunday. Visit Ticketmaster for purchasing options, although I saw many families purchasing tickets at the door.