This was my first time at the Big Apple Circus, having been to many other circuses. What I loved most about it was its size. It was an intimate circus, without extraneous characters running around. Everyone counted and the show was high quality.
I brought three 11 year old girls to the show and they loved it, as did the younger kids sitting around us. With only 16 rows of seats (about 1,700 total guests), you’ll have a good view no matter where you sit. I’ll tell the story mostly through photos.
The Quinterion Troupe from Hungary started off after an all-cast introduction and parade around the ring. The Hungarians basically did a few flips from the trampoline over a cow (much like the Olympic gymnasts use the vault, only this time they didn’t touch the cow). That was really odd and a strange use of a farm animal in the circus. Their bio in the beautiful program shows them to have graduated from their country’s artistic program and performed around the world. Not sure if the cow is always part of their program. This was one of the least impressive acts.
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My daughter and her friends take riding lessons, so the equestrian act by Jenny Vidbel was a favorite. The six horses (and for part of the time an additional 6 miniature horses) ran around the ring in various groupings and did some interesting bows and exits.
The horses also pooped a bit on the outer ring, and I watched all the rest of the acts wondering who was going to step in it. The clowns did! The staff brushed the horse poop off during the intermission.
Contortionists alternately amaze and gross me out, and judging by the noises coming out of the mouths around me, I think everyone else felt the same way. Elayne Kramer (I can’t help thinking of Seinfeld, combining two names of the popular characters) was a gorgeous woman (only 21!) who was born into the circus. She performed a long act, which was one of my favorites. Above, she’s balancing herself on a mouthpiece stuck on a rod in the table.
As if it weren’t enough that she made her body into all the weird shapes, she then contorted herself and shot a bow and arrow WITH HER FEET and popped a balloon (it did take her two tries, but the first time the arrow landed right next to the balloon, so we’ll give her credit for that. I can’t even shoot the balloon the normal way).
Okay, so enough of Elayne Kramer. We loved the slack wire act, which is like a high wire act, only on a wire that’s slack (duh!). Zhang Pan did all kinds of things on this wire, including standing on it while he swung it back and forth at a very good pace. Here he is doing a headstand on the wire. Ouch!
Because balancing your head on a wire isn’t enough, he put a ladder on the wire and balanced on that. Yeah, easy stuff. And then it was on to unicycling. He did this while peddling the unicycle with his hands, feet in the air. We really liked his act.
Above is Daniel Cyr in the Cyr Wheel. I’d seen acrobats on this apparatus in Cirque du Soleil (see photo here), but didn’t realize that the guy who popularized it was Daniel Cyr, seen above in the Big Apple Circus. Cyr actually has performed in Cirque du Soleil. Watching someone spin around in this wheel is impressive (and I was appreciative not to be either falling flat on my face in it or puking after – that’s a lot of spinning!). We really enjoyed this act.
I realize this isn’t the best picture of a trapeze artist, but he’s still so it wasn’t blurry! Andrey Manchev did some fun acrobatics on the trapeze, falling once (fortunately he was wired). The funny part, though, was that at the end of the act, he no longer had his weird goatee/beard thing that is terribly unattractive in the first place. You can see it in the photo. Even the girls noticed that when he took his bow, his chin was hairless.
As usually happens, the clowns were a highlight of the show. Though not pictured, fellow clown Seth Bloom and Christina Gelsone (above/below) were a good pair, entertaining and diving into the audience and pulling out perfect audience participants. Christina is a Princeton alum, and Seth makes the masks by hand.
The photo above shows one of the audience participants, a little boy who played his part perfectly.
The kids really liked the dog part of the show, though I was less impressed. The dogs are apparently all pound dogs, and they jumped over a few gates and through a few hoops. The one above danced and jumped rope. Others rode a scooter and climbed a ladder, jumping off into someone’s arms. The same one played for physical comedy, stealing food and going back into its collar. It was cute, but didn’t do much for me.
Katerina above, did some rope aerials which were pretty. I really liked the other aerialists, couple Valeriy Sychev and Malvina Abakarova, but couldn’t get them in a good photo to show.
I loved this combination of dancing tango and juggling at the same time. The juggler is Menno Van Dyke, and his able assistant (who threw him balls and caught them sometimes) was more of the dancer. I’ve never seen someone juggle while doing tango. It was a good twist!
Take seven Chinese women and put them on bicycles doing tricks. That is the Dalian troupe. While riding their little bikes around the ring, they hopped from bike to bike, onto each other’s shoulders, switched drivers and did other feats I can’t do even when standing still. The kids loved them.
It’s not enough to do a cartwheel without a bike. Here they do one (actually two) while ON bikes – and they end it on the wheels.
Apologies to those acts that didn’t make it into the review by photo. Some of my pictures didn’t turn out well, especially for those performers who were spinning in low light!
So you can probably tell we enjoyed ourselves. It was fun reading the bios of who is behind the circus – a lot of very talented, well educated and well traveled performers from many countries! The circus is nonprofit, and you can join as a member (there are benefits)
They have a number of charitable programs, including a Clown Care program where clowns visit kids in hospitals, a Vaudeville Caravan where clowns visit residential care facilities, and giving away tickets to economically or physically disadvantaged kdis.
The show runs 2 hours with one intermission. You can get into the tent an hour before the show. They have stroller parking, concessions and restrooms via porta-potty.
Parking was free in the Somerset Patriots lot. Many people parked in the Target shopping center across the street. I’m not sure if the shopping center staff cares about that; the police officer directing traffic didn’t seem to care. That was actually a shorter walk to the tent and where I’ll park next time!
If you go:
When: Fridays through Sundays (and a few Wednesdays and Thursdays), through March 17, 2013.
Where: Somerset Patriots parking lot in Bridgewater, NJ. The Big Apple Circus goes to Boston March 26-May 12, and then Queens, NY from May 19-June 16.
Tickets: Tickets are $20-40.
Discounts: The only discounts I found when scouting around today was Retailmenot, which I didn’t try so I don’t know if the codes work. Post a comment below if you use them and let me know!
Goldstar sometimes has ticket deals too.
Disclosure: I received media tickets for review purposes. All opinions are my own. More from Deborah Abrams Kaplan.