Most people have been to the circus. But, no one alive today has been to the type of circuses held in 1903…until now. Onstage at Durham Performing Arts Center (DPAC), presented by MagicSpace Entertainment, is a new kind of show, one aptly called Circus 1903: The Golden Age of Circus. And, while Circus 1903 might not be the kind of thing one usually sees at DPAC, it’s refreshingly new and fun, truly a show that the whole family can enjoy.
The fun starts before the curtains even part. There is lots of “stage warming” to get things going. Complete with magic tricks, thrown popcorn, and silly gags, it’s easy to tell, right from the start, that this show is going to pull out all the stops and do its best to operate as an authentic circus…and it succeeds at doing just that.
David Williamson acts as Ringmaster Willy Whipsnade, a fast-talking funnyman who keeps the show moving from one act to the next with silly jokes and tricks, many of which involve participants pulled from the audience. Williamson’s antics add a nice touch of improv to the production, making each viewing feel unique and exciting, just like a real circus.
The first true act of the show features performers atop a see-saw like contraption. They engage in a delicate dance/balancing act that is both engaging and harrowing to watch at the same time. The entire performance is smooth and well-choreographed, serving as a solid first act.
Other great acts include a lovely “bicycle ballet,” and the talented (and amazingly flexible) Senayet Assefa Amaro as the aptly-named “Elastic Dislocationist.” There’s also juggling, knife-throwing, and all the other wonders and treats one expects at a circus.
In fact, believe it or not, there are even elephants…sort of. Four amazing puppeteers bring to life both a large elephant and a baby elephant. Both are incredibly realistic and perfectly embody the grace and power of the real animals…without any harm or abuse in sight.
All in all, Circus may not be the typical show that theatregoers expect, but it is a nice change of pace and a lot of fun. It successfully brings childlike wonder and joy to viewers of all ages, making it a great event to enjoy with family.
The Durham Performing Arts Center presents CIRCUS 1903: THE GOLDEN AGE OF CIRCUS at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 27 and 28, 8 p.m. Sept. 29, 2 and 8 p.m. Sept. 30, and 1 and 6:30 p.m. Oct. 1 at 123 Vivian St., Durham, North Carolina 27701, in the American Tobacco Historic District.
TICKETS: $30 and up, plus taxes and fees. Click here for DPAC Special Offers.
Ticketmaster: 800-982-2787 or http://www.ticketmaster.com/venueartist/115558/2204782.
GROUP RATES (15+ tickets): 919/281-0587, Groups@DPACnc.com, or http://www.dpacnc.com/events-tickets/group-services.
VIDEO PREVIEWS: http://www.circus1903.com/videos.
DPAC‘S 2017-18 “TEN GREAT YEARS” SUNTRUST BROADWAY SERIES: https://www.dpacnc.com/suntrust-broadway-series-2017-18 and https://www.dpacnc.com/news/detail/announcing-suntrust-broadway-at-dpac-2017-2018-season.
DPAC AGE RESTRICTION: “Please note that all guests require a ticket, regardless of age,” writes DPAC. “Children under the age of 5 are not allowed at this performance. Children must be able to sit quietly in their own seat without disturbing other guests. As a further courtesy to our guests, DPAC recommends one parent or chaperone for every one child in attendance.”
NOTE: Arts Access, Inc. of Raleigh will audio-describe the show’s 8 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 30th, performance.
Circus 1903: The Golden Age of Circus (2016 Canberra and 2017 Los Angeles, and New York old-time circus): http://www.circus1903.com/ (official website) and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Circus_1903 (Wikipedia).
Susie Potter is a Raleigh, NC-based freelance writer and editor. She is a 2009 graduate of Raleigh’s Meredith College, where she majored in English. She holds graduate degrees in teaching and American literature from North Carolina State University in Raleigh. In addition to her work for Triangle Arts and Entertainment, she is an award-winning author of short fiction. Her works have appeared in The Colton Review, Raleigh Quarterly, Broken Plate Magazine, Big Muddy: A Journal of the Mississippi River Valley, the Chaffey Review, and Existere. To read all of Susie Potter’s Triangle Arts and Entertainment articles and reviews, click http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/author/susie-q/. To read more of her writings, click http://www.susiepotter.com and http://www.myspace.com/susiepotter.