New show ‘Cir­cus 1903’ brings back live ele­phants, sort of

Kuwait Times - - LIFESTYLE -

Rin­gling Bros and Bar­num & Bai­ley Cir­cus may have re­tired their iconic ele­phants but there’s still a way to see the huge beasts on­stage. The new tour­ing show “Cir­cus 1903,” which makes its Amer­i­can debut next year, fea­tures two life-size ele­phants - one baby, one mas­sive mamma - cre­ated by the pup­peteers and model mak­ers of Sig­nif­i­cant Ob­ject, who made the life­like horse fea­tured in the hit play “War Horse.”

“Th­ese pup­pets feel real. They’ve been built in a way, even when they’re just stand­ing there do­ing noth­ing, they’re just breath­ing, they ab­so­lutely feel real. That’s what we wanted to cap­ture,” said cre­ative and ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer Si­mon Pain­ter. The pachy­derms will be part of a show that at­tempts to cap­ture the magic of cir­cuses at the dawn of the last cen­tury, with strong men, foot jug­glers, con­tor­tion­ists, ac­ro­bats, knife throw­ers, teeter­board­ers, high-wire per­form­ers and a bi­cy­cle stunt­man.

The show makes its US bow in Los An­ge­les at the Pan­tages Theater on Feb 14 and then makes stops in Bos­ton, Chicago, Dal­las, Detroit, Den­ver and New York City. Tick­ets go on sale Mon­day. Pain­ter, who has had great suc­cess with his ma­gi­cian su­per­group fran­chise “The Il­lu­sion­ist,” said he’s hop­ing to re­vive the panache and brav­ery of the past, “where show­man­ship was front and cen­ter.”

It’s an at­tempt to jet­ti­son the Cirque Du Soleilled drive for nar­ra­tives in fa­vor of high­light­ing the acts them­selves, which of­ten tried to out­shine the oth­ers. “Ev­ery sin­gle per­son needs to win the crowd. Ev­ery act should be al­most the clos­ing act.” Pain­ter and his team con­sulted cir­cus his­to­ri­ans and picked 1903 be­cause that’s when Bar­num & Bai­ley’s so-called Great­est Show on Earth re­turned from a five-year tour of Europe. It trav­eled al­most daily with a mind-bog­gling 1,200 peo­ple, 200 wag­ons and 700 an­i­mals.

“The way that they would get you to come - the whole town - was by promis­ing th­ese acts that were be­yond any­body’s imag­i­na­tion. And that’s what we’ve tried to do,” said Pain­ter. “We’ve made a mas­sive ef­fort to cast a net as far as pos­si­ble, just like they did over 100 years ago.” Many of the acts in the show are be­ing per­formed by mem­bers of the same fam­ily, who have passed down their skills over gen­er­a­tions and so knew what their an­ces­tors did 100 years ago. For other acts, Pain­ter had to teach the per­former new skills - and un­learn tricks from 2016. “This is, hon­estly, the show I’ve wanted to make for 15 years,” he said. In ad­di­tion to Pain­ter, the pro­duc­ers in­clude Tim Law­son and Mag­icS­pace En­ter­tain­ment.

— AP photos

This im­age re­leased by DKC shows two life size ele­phants cre­ated by pup­peteers and model mak­ers for the new tour­ing show ‘Cir­cus 1903.’

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