Thursday, March 31, 2011

Circus Night With "The Girls"

My Circus Companions On Our "Night Out"
 Last Friday night, March 25, I had the pleasure of spending an evening in the company of 3 of my favorite ladies. My wife; my 2 daughters in law, Heather and Brandi; and I went to the circus.

The 2011 edition of Ringling Brothers, Barnum & Bailey Circus came to the arena at WKU.Because my sons got to have a "guy's day out" in January (we went to Lexington to see "Spamalot") I promised the girls that I'd take them out some place special as well. They seemed to be excited about my choice of events.

We got into Diddle arena early enough to see the special "all access" preshow. This show allowed spectators to stand around the ring that would serve as the show's performance area and watch some of the acts up close. You could get autographs and pictures taken with the performers as well.  A clown served as the MC for the preshow. He was dressed and made up as a typical circus clown. The only one of the 4 clowns in the show who was.

The preshow was entertaining. It had jugglers, some acrobats and an appearance by the elephants. The humongous animals really filled the ring and were the real highlight of the preshow.

The show was very entertaining and well worth the price of admission. There were quite a few typical circus acts. But it was not 3-ring show that you usually think of when it comes to Ringling Brothers. The owners of this edition of the show also owns the "Siegfried & Roy" show out in Las Vegas. This circus had a Vegas style presentation. It was a combination of a circus and a magic act. The "star" of the show was a magician who performed some good but typical illusions. The most impressive one was when his assistant went through a series of instant wardrobe changes behind small curtians right before our eyes.

Some of the more interesting acts in the show were a guy riding a motorcycle on a tightrope while a pair of lady acrobats did tricks on a bar hanging from the cycle but below the tightrope.

There was a really good trained dog act with several really cute canines. Of course the elephants made a couple of appearances during the show. Seeing such large creatures sit on pedestals and stand up on their hind legs was a sight.

There was a group of about 1/2 a dozen of acrobats who did some tricks on a flexible beam and later did some more complicated tricks using see saw like boards to launch themselves into the air and onto the shoulders of their fellow performers stacked 2 and 3 high. One little girl missed a really high jump but went back and did it successfully a 2nd time.

A pair of Asian guys did tricks with knives and swords including jumping through hoops lined with sharp knives and a ring of fire.

Earlier I mentioned clowns. The clown in make up from the preshow did very little during the main show. There were 3 clowns who did though. The main clown was a young guy with a spiked hair do. The other 2 were clowns/musicians. The funniest routine they did was a when two clowns played Jazz songs on the sax and trumpet and the spike haired guy interrupted them with techno dance music coming from an over sized IPod.

There were a couple of acts that didn't work and they were at the start of the 2nd act. During the intermisson the stagehands constructed a cage for a group of 6 lions. A series of small cages (2 lions per cage) were lined up and connected to the gate of the cage.

As we sat in our seats during the intermission we noticed that one of the lions was a bit upset with something she saw outside her cage. She stared it down and would try to charge it but was of course stopped by the bars of her small cage. Not sure what it was but her fury seemed to be directed toward seats on the floor area in front of us. It made us a bit nervous.

When the 2nd act started the magician had his assistant put him in a straight jacket and hooked him to a wire. He then hung upside down by his feet above the lion's cage. He vowed to escape the jacket. As he was hoisted in the air he hollered, "Release the lions." The gate was opened and out from the small cages came the lions. But it wasn't the least bit dramatic. The lions just kind of lumbered out, stretched and yawned as if they had just been awakend from a nap. They didn't start running around the cage or even look the least bit interested in the man hanging over them.

While the crowd was busy watching the not so impressive lions come into the ring the magician escaped from the straight jacket. It was anti climatic to say the least.

When he was back on the ground the magician introduced the lion tamer. He came into the cage but the lions weren't very attentive to him. They just didn't want to seem to be bothered. The lion that was upset in his cage during the intermission was the only one that would listen to him. She only did that after being offered several pieces of meat on the end of the trainers stick.

The trainer got the lions to do a couple of rather lame tricks. I don't even remember any applause during the act. About halfway through the trainer brought out a male lion with an all white coat and mane. At first glance you said to yourself, "Aww what a pretty lion." But after a few minutes of looking at the white lion and the way he acted you realized something. The male lion was old. I mean really really old. He had the feline equivilant of grey hair. He didn't want to do anything but lie around. The whole act was lame.

There were a couple of acts that I'd never seen at a circus before that really impressed me. There were trained house cats who did some impressive tricks. Then there was a pair of young ladies who did tricks from a wire above the arena floor. What was unusual about them though was that they did all their tricks hanging by their hair. We couldn't figure out how they did it without pulling their hair out by the roots. We surmised that there was some kind of trick to it. When they first started hanging by their hair I leaned over to Paula and said, "You've got to find out what shampoo they use."

The last act was one of the best. It featured a pair of motorcycles driving at high speeds inside a metal sphere. Not only did they speed around the inside of the sphere. They did it with a young lady suspended by a wire hanging in the middle of it. It was very impressive.

The magician's last illusion was putting his assistant in a cage and "changing" her into a lion. The show ended with a grand finale that included all the circus acts coming out for a bow and then leave the ring waving "good-bye".

After the circus we went to Cheddars restaurant for dinner. It was fun sitting and talking about all kinds of things. Mostly we talked about our sons but not just about them.

It was wonderful night with my 3 favorite ladies. Now that there's been a "guys' day out" and a "girls' night out" the next is probably a family event. That's something I'm looking forward to. I love spending time with my family.

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