Travel back to yesteryear with 'Circus 1903'
Journey back to yesteryear—specifically, 114 of them. Do the math and arrive at Circus 1903, a new blast-from-a-century-ago-past.
“Our show has reminded people why they love the traditional circus,” says David Williamson, aka Willy Whipsnade, ringmaster of the new throwback production chockablock with aerialists, contortionists, high-wire walkers, roustabouts, jugglers, gymnasts, elephants—in puppet form—and that old-timey, everything-under-the-big-top feel. “People are in search of a romantic notion of transporting back to a simpler time. That’s our stock in trade, a beautiful framework to remind people.”
Particularly after the tent-folding of Ringling Bros., revel in this spiritual handoff—you could consider it Cirque du Soleil’s grandpappy—as Circus 1903 luxuriates in tradition. “We’ve stripped away a lot of the technology and elements of today’s shows—LED lights, crazy lasers, pyros and fireworks—and gone back to real, true, raw talent,” says director Neil Dorward. “The audience can go back to watching an amazing beautiful act without their focus taken away.”
Marvel as a sideshow-segment contortionist known as “The Elastic Dislocationalist” amazes in positions that make you fear her chiropractic bills. Costumed in early 20th-century outfits, acrobats leap off a seesaw into intricate flips and somersaults; another rubber-limbed artist balances precariously atop stacks of spheres and boards while slipping between metal rings; a cyclist performs a ballet on wheels; a juggler spins a frenetic blur of whirling clubs; roustabouts parade through the aisles; and a family of high-wire walkers defy gravity.
Then there’s the elephants—puppetized, exoskeleton creations named Queenie and her baby, the rambunctious Peanut, providing a different set of oohs and aahs.
Tying it all together is gregarious, bushy-mustachioed ringmaster David Williamson, aka Willy Whipsnade. Hitting his comic stride when calling up small children onstage, he orchestrates bursts of controlled chaos, dazzling them with coins, puppets, playing cards and pies for moments of inspired juvenile vaudeville—and a warm life message.
Yesteryear never felt so entertainingly up to date.
Paris, 7 p.m. Tues. & Thurs.-Fri., 3 & 7 p.m. Wed. & Sat.-Sun., starting at $49 plus tax and fee. 702.777.2782