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The Coney Island Boom a Ring

Ringling Bros' first tent show in 50 years proves to be one of the most entertaining circuses ever. logo
Vicenta Pages with White Tabby
(© Feld Entertainment)
Part of circus lore is the use of revved-up adjectives: "All new!" "Colossal!" "Greatest!" Finally, though, a circus has come to town that lives up to all the hyperbole: Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey's Coney Island Boom a Ring. It's Ringling's first tent show in 50 years and it ranks as one of their best ever, in large part due to the direction of Broadway veteran Philip Wm. McKinley (best known for The Boy from Oz).

Be warned: Unlike some of Ringling's more elaborate shows, this one doesn't have showgirls or production numbers. Indeed, it is a more intimate (even if the tent seats 2,000!), back-to-basics version of Ringling's arena shows. But what makes it so authentic and entertaining are the high-energy, beautifully-staged acts featuring a mix of American and international gymnasts, acrobats, and animals.

The show's absolute standout performer is the gorgeous 23-year-old Vicenta Pages, who opens the show, entering on an elephant, as a sort of hostess. Then this young beauty -- dressed-to-kill and wearing some eye-popping gold bling -- enters a cage with her six white cats whom she's raised since six months. The cats aren't always agreeable, but Pages seems to have a way about her that coerces them to do their tricks. After exiting the cage, she strips out of the colorful cloak to reveal a skimpy outfit and rises into the upper reaches of the tent to perform a breathtaking act on Roman rings.

The show is chock-full of first rate performers: "Pedal man" Justin Case, who has many eccentric clown personas, brings a touch of Cirque du Soleil to the show with his off-the-wall antics; Finnish beauty Liina Aunola, dubbed "Queen of the Clouds," impresses on the aerial rope swing in a dazzling presentation courtesy of some smoke effects; and Mexico's Urias Brothers appear on revved up motorcycles orbiting the 16-foot circumference every which way at speeds of 65 miles an hour.

And wait, there's more: Karl Winn defies gravity, sometimes blindfolded and jumping rope, on the towering Wheel of Steel; Borislava "Bobby" Vaneva balances a gigantic perch contraption on his head as wife Valentin Dinov rides a bike and performs acrobatics; Vas Trifonov and Stas Knyazkov do a hilarious juggling routine; and Martti Peltonen takes archery to new extremes before becoming a live William Tell and having the apple bite the dust. Plus, there are also three performing Asian elephants and a sure-fire delight of a dog act for the kids.

And then there are the seven handsome hunks and two attractive gals who make up the amazingly agile Negrey Troupe. You have to wait until the end of the show to be really knocked out by their acrobatic skills as they perform dizzying cartwheels, handsprings, back flips and maneuvers on their specially-designed track that give tumbling new definition.

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