The Coney Island Boom a Ring
Ringling Bros' first tent show in 50 years proves to be one of the most entertaining circuses ever.
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.