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  • Chad Womack

Chad Reviews "Circus 1903"

It’s been a rough period for the circus as an institution. With animal rights activists, protests, and various lawsuits plaguing the once proud Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, they finally decided that after all the negative press (along with declining ticket sales and rising production costs), they would close shop just a few days ago after an almost 150 year run. The days of the travelling show that would come to town via railroad and set up a giant tent to dazzle locals had gone the way of the dinosaur decades ago (with very few exceptions), giving way to the arena based entertainment that we have all become so familiar with. But what if some of that golden era magic could be captured and remind us all why we loved the circus in the first place? Well it turns out we can, as Dallas Summer Musicals at Fair Park Music Hall bring us “Circus 1903 – The Golden Age Of Circus” through June 4th.

Circus 1903 is not a production that you would traditionally from a venue like Music Hall. There are no musical numbers to speak of and outside of the laugh a minute Ringmaster Willy Whipsnade (David Williamson), no real verbal communication with the audience. Various acrobats, contortionists, and aerial performers take us from warm up to set up of the big top, and after a brief intermission, the show proper begins with all performers upping their game by dazzling and delighting at every possible moment, putting on a show unlike anything I’ve ever seen.

This was an absolute joy to witness. Given the fact that “The Greatest Show on Earth” had just literally folded up their tents for the final time mere days before this production pulled into town and being a huge fan of the circus since childhood, this was exactly what I needed. This atmosphere is unmistakably authentic; not just from period costuming and vernacular but also from the energy of the performers and the constant amazement of the audience, with a show-stopping appearance by a pair of elephants operated by master puppeteers that actually brought tears to my eyes. With something for everyone, “Circus 12903” is a truly remarkable experience to share with friends and family that I cannot recommend strongly enough. I truly hope this show continues to grow and evolve, as it is a truly remarkable production that I would happily re-visit time and time again.

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