Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Time Out NY Reviews Ringling's Illuscination

Note: I found this review, which appeared a few weeks ago on the website Time Out NY, to be independent and worth passing along.

The writer is Raven Snook:

Like last summer’s eye-popping Coney Island Boom-a-Ring!, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey’s latest seaside spectacle fits right in with the colorful neighborhood. Cool (if familiar) feats—juggling, tumbling, swinging and lion taming—inspire ooos and ahhs, but it’s the interactive preshow that really wows kiddos. That’s when wide-eyed kids can step right into the ring to try jump-roping, balancing and tightrope walking (don’t worry, it’s close to the ground!); don rhinestone-studded costumes and gawk at the animals up close. It’s certainly a great family photo op and definitely a circus highlight.

Not to imply that the show itself isn’t good fun. Although there’s no standout star like last year’s French-accented bicycle master, Justin Case, there are many memorable acts—if you’re patient. An energetic opening showcases the mind-boggling illusions of magician-emcee David DaVinci, but he quickly disappears. (Not his best trick.) In his absence, a trio of mildly amusing lowbrow clowns keeps things moving. A quirky cat act (when’s the last time you’ve seen one of those?) and a comical clown-and-horse routine salvage a somewhat slow first act. But don’t leave at intermission: The best bits are yet to come. Trainer Brian McMillan brings out a team of wildcats (including a rare snow-white lion) that nip and roar before turning into obedient pussycats. (The lethargic elephants, by contrast, don’t do much except inspire the ire of animal-rights activists.) The hilarious Kung Fu Kings, a feisty sideshow duo, bend metal rods around their necks like snap bracelets and jump through a spinning ring of fiery blades…while blindfolded. Amazing acrobatic troupe the Salsations end the evening on a high-flying note, prompting onlookers to question everything they’ve ever learned from Sir Isaac Newton.

Perhaps the show’s biggest selling points are its intimacy, location (it’s a special way to end a day at the beach) and relatively inexpensive ticket prices. You can snag seats for as little as ten bucks, and while they won’t be ringside (those are $50), it’s not like watching the circus from the back row at Madison Square Garden. Now all you have to do is perform the greatest trick of all: getting out of the tent without having to buy Junior one of those $20 light-up spinning balls.

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