It didn’t seem too far-fetched that a circus was coming to town. After all, the likes of Ringling Bros. and UniverSoul circus’s visit every year (though Ringling Bros. ended recently), with their big tents or enormous space at a local arena. Unlike the former two productions, ‘Circus 1903’ set up shop in a chancy space in uptown – on the stage of Knight Theater. And it couldn’t have been more perfect.
It is the big top – only it isn’t that big. And there is no tent, or a top. But there are all the magical things that make up a circus. There is popcorn and sugar-sweet cotton candy for the kiddos, acrobats, contortionists, a bearded lady (sort of), a juggler and lots of other things to hold the interests of every man, woman, and child in the place.
This show is unlike most that come to this semi-intimate theater. Usually it’s a play, with two or three acts, along with a cast or ensemble, a plot, an antagonist, and so on. This time, there is an all-out circus performance that has no other goal than to entertain, to uplift, and to tickle everyone’s funny bone. David Williamson is Ringmaster Willy Whipsnade, and is a gentle giant of sorts, especially compared to the children he comically accosts onstage. He has a quick-wit about him and is able to make the biggest or smallest misstep a part of the act without furrowing a brow.
There were moments of uncertainty when a risky stunt was attempted. And there were plenty of those. Let’s just say blindfolds were utilized, narrow tightropes were present, and spinning rings were hoisted tens of feet off the ground. The Sensational Sozonov caused several gasps and chest-clinching moments during his balancing act on cylinders sandwiched between wooden boards. At any moment we expected for someone or something to come crashing down, but it never did. The jaws of those in the audience were the only things dropping, because each act was just as impressive as the next.
A teeterboard sat in the middle of the stage when The Flying Fins (Arthur Ivanovich, Petter Vastermark, and AJ Saltalamacchia) began the show. Think see-saw, but standing instead of sitting. Daunting right? Throughout this performance you’ll see lots of mind-blowing awesomeness
Scenic designer, Todd Edward Ivins, created a magnificent mini version of the big tops you see today. A red and blue backdrop and soft lighting set the tone. Spotlights illuminated the acts as they twirled, flipped, and juggled across the stage. The costumes of baggy pants and vintage circus garb was the handy work of Costume Designer, Angela Aaron. She nailed it.
At Knight Theater, Circus 1903 put on the greatest little show the stage could hold. And since I missed both Ringling Bros. and UniverSoul recently, this more than made up for it. My silly has been fulfilled.
For more information visit www.blumenthalarts.org.