Monday, July 26, 2010

Run Away to the Circus

Trust the Gray Lady to cast her haughty gimlet eye down upon the gaudy big top and to find it wanting.

This is what I have to say about Ringling Brothers & Barnum & Bailey's Coney Island Illuscination. Just go. And bring your kids. Sure, it's nothing that most adults haven't already seen. I suppose if your kids are especially jaded and have already seen Cirque du Soleil and Big Apple Circus and Momix and attended Robert Wilson's L'Orfeo at La Scala fer chrissakes, then it might all be a little passé for them. If your kids are like mine and consider Yo Gabba Gabba and the Backyardigans to be excellent entertainment, this'll blow their minds. The Tiny Leader (<4) and the Darling Leader (<2) were both rapt.

This is like a circus that might have rolled into your mythical little American town but better. It's a one-ring big-top with the worst seat in the house being no more than 50 feet away from the ring. You get jugglers standing on horses, spinning hair-hanging maidens, a posing trio of elephants with ladies in spangly costumes, blind-folded martial artists jumping through flaming spinning blades, a man in a cage with a whole pride of lions, clowns, acrobats, aerialists, dancers, tight rope acts, and ladies disappearing, reappearing, changing costumes in a flash, turning into a lioness, etc.

If you go an hour before showtime, your kids can hang out in the ring itself. The ringmaster clown leads them in activities like dancing, jumping rope, hula-hooping, and there's an up-close and personal cameo from (presumably) the most even-tempered of the three elephants.

The cheapest tickets are $10 and they're fine. $20 tickets are excellent. Under 2s are free and any number of businesses offer $5 off coupons for kid tickets (a 20 ride ticket from Deno's Wonder Wheel is the example that I know of). You can also check the website to see if they have a promotional offer going.

Two things to be aware of, as follows. The air-conditioning can be a little aggressive in spots, so bring sweaters and make sure that the whole gang takes a bathroom stop before going to the show, it's port-a-potties and not nearly enough of them. Bonus: You are in Coney Island: Luna Park, Deno's Wonder Wheel, The Cyclone, The boardwalk, the beach and Nathan's. Enjoy!


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