Rob Reviews "Circus 1903"
As great as the era that we currently live in is, there are things that have fallen by the wayside that make me sad on a certain level. “Old Man Rob” remembers things like playing outside until the street light came on because there was really nothing to do inside, walking to school without the fear of the world around me, playing games at the arcade in the mall, and going to the circus. Now, we were not rich by any means, so our circus experience was more about the lower-rung shows that would set up shop in a parking lot or open field for a week or so at a time, but I still had some great memories of those shows. There is even photo evidence somewhere of me in face paint. (Let’s be real: there was in ice cream bribe involved. Even back then I knew how much I did not like any form of anything on the cabeza.) I never got to experience The Big Show, and we are now officially at the point that I never will. However, a new production is now touring that captures what is billed as “The Golden Age of Circus” with “Circus 1903” (from the team that brought us “The Illusionists”) at Music Hall at Fair Park through June 4th.
Hosted by ringmaster Willy Whipsnode (David Williamson), this production uses the traditional two-act format, with the first act more of a “stuff that happens while we are waiting for the circus to start” feel like some casual acrobatics, a side show, and some other cool feats including a full-sized puppeteer-ed elephant mother and baby designed by the team behind “War Horse”. Whipsnode also does some crowd interaction as set pieces are being changed, and as Act II begins, it is the full Big Top experience, with tight rope walkers, human trapeze workers, and more.
There is truly something here for everyone, no matter your age. From great work by the cast with tricks to keep the young ones captivated (including Williamson’s great work with some young volunteers that had me laughing out loud on multiple occasions), to feats of strength that will take your breath away and artistry that will capture the eye of even the staunchest of arts fans, “Circus 1903” took me back, even if for only a couple of hours, to a simpler time in my life, which was something I have desperately needed as of late. If you are looking for a great time at the theater, go now, go often, go again, bring other people and their families, and then go again!