Thursday February 22nd 2018

“Circus 1903” The Golden Age of Circus

circusRecommended ***  The “Greatest Show on Earth” is supposedly gone! Barnum and Bailey will no longer come to town each year and thrill youngsters (of all ages), but thanks to Broadway In Chicago, we can still thrill to the wonders of what a circus is all about. As part of their Broadway In Chicago season, we have, at present “Circus 1903”, the Golden Age of Circus, on the stage at the Oriental Theatre. From the people who recently brought “The illusionists” to our stage (aka the worlds biggest magic show), this new show opened to a packed house tonight.

The show is designed to take us back in time, to what appears to be a small town, and the arrival of the Circus. The workers putting up the tent, the equipment and even the “side-shows”, so that “children of all ages” can forget about their lives, at least for a few hours and just have a ball! To watch in amazement as the high-wire act defeats the odds. While classified as a play, the only story-telling is the set-ups as created by Ringmaster, Willy Whipsnade (a whimsical , comic touch by David Williamson, who plays well off the kids that he selects from the audience). One of the beautiful parts of this show is in fact, the honest reactions from the children (and one adult) to being part of a trick or sequence. The kids were adorable, and Williamson kept them into the show!circus4

The show begins with the arrival of the workers and performers. The “hammer” guys are wonderful tumblers (The Flying Fins)and are masters of the “teeter board”, and we are treated to a person in the sideshow called the “elastic dislocationist” (the amazing and very flexible Senayet Asefa Amare). Her body did things that are unreal! The Aerialist, Lucky Moon (Elana Gathilova) was also intriguing in how agile she was. There were times I was concerned that in a smaller, indoor space, the limits were greater, but, these performers, who truly train for each and every move they make, know exactly what they are doing, and are in complete control.

Circus 1903 Hammer GuysYes, even when an error occurs, such as with The Rossi brothers who are called “foot jugglers”, they came back even stronger, making it seem that they might just do that for effect. The same was true with juggler, The Great Gaston ( Francois Borie) who had a little drop, but again, made up for it, with even more items and at lightning speed. The Highwire was performed to perfection by the Lopez Family (Mexico’s number one highwire performers). The two men, Johan and Jonathan along with sister Maria Jose Pontigo are absolutely amazing. Riding bikes on the wire , as well as rope jumping and dancing- at no time did they seem to have any problem whatsoever.

We also were treated to the great “Cycling Cyclone (Florian Blummel, who makes bike riding look so easy), The Sensational Sozonov (Mitchell Sazonov), Les Incredibles (Anny LaPlante and Andrei Kalesnikau) and the clowning of Duo Flash (Yevgeniv Dashivskyy and Yefrem Bitkine). This is a cast of amazing performers and then of course, there were the “elephants” After all, how can one have a circu without elephants. Anyone who recalls the amazing puppetry that produced the horses in “War Horse” will see that the same puppet designers were put to the task of creating an adult and baby elephant. They are absolutely stunning and within a few moments, you will see them as real, not puppets. The puppeteers Chris Milford (heart), Daniel Fanning (hind)  and Nyron Levy (head), along with Luke Chadwick-Jones as Karanga puppeteer) all do a marvelous  job. As I said, within minutes, we forget they are puppets!

Circus 1903 Tightrope

The kids who were used in the production participated without hesitation and had no problem communicating with ther Ringmaster.Let’s face it, the circus is all about the kids (remember, they always say “children of all ages”) and when it come sot watching a circus, aren’t we all kids? While I gave this an over-all rating of “recommended” if you truly love the circus, you will be in heaven. The biggest problem with this production is that it is only here thru Sundays, March 26th.

Circus 1903 ElephantPerformances are as follows:

Wednesday, 7:30 p.m.

Thursday  7:30 p.m.

Friday  7:30 p.m.

Saturday  2  and 8 p.m.

Sunday  2 and 7:30 p.m.

RUNNING TIME 2 hours with an intermission

Tickets range from $16- $80 and can be purchased at any of the Broadway In Chicago box offices, by calling the Broadway In Chicago Ticketline at 1-800-775-2000 , at all Ticketmaster outlets or online at

The Oriental Theatre is located at 24 West Randolph Street (between State and Dearborn).

To see what others are saying, visit, go to Review Round-Up and click at “Circus 1903”circus3


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