by Adam Cohen
As iconic as the Empire State Building and Central Park – the Big Apple Circus has thankfully returned to Lincoln Center’s Damrosch Park for a holiday season’s worth of performances. For the 40th anniversary, Big Apple Circus performs in a tent with a single ring but offers three rings of entertainment with fabulous jugglers, acrobats, tumblers, high wire performers and amazing clowns. Kids of all ages will marvel and enjoy themselves at this colorful, fun, funny, thrilling performance. It is everything you want for family entertainment – lively, snappily paced with confident agile performances. Every seat in the house is close to the action – and you can even get in on the act thanks to the hysterical clowns.
Under Director Mark Lonergan’s steady hand the Big Apple Circus is fast moving fun. This year’s edition includes ten-time World Record Holder and tight ropewalker Nik Wallenda and family and the return of legendary clown, Grandma.
The show opens with a parade of all the performers juggling and tumbling and we’re introduced to the ringmaster – Tyron “Ty” McFarlan – who’s been with Ringling Brothers and acted in television’s Army Wives and One Tree Hill. McFarlan is a benign presence until being saddled with fear inducing commentary about the Wallenda family tragedies before their final act. It’s as if someone confused his role with Leading Player in Pippin. This is the one down note in an amazing spectacle as the Wallendas create a seven-person pyramid on the tight rope in an amazing finale.
Along the way you get two animal acts led by Jenny Vidbell – her dogs in the second act are more entertaining than the first’s elegant horses. Dandino will have you on the edge of your seat with their acrobatic roller-skating. Gamal Garcia Tuniziani is a skillful juggler of clubs and balls. Elayne Kramer holds focus with her astounding contortion. And Jan Damm offers remarkable balance on a jerry rigged multi-level platform. Ammed Tuniziani’s trapeze act is amazing – filled with aerial somersaults and multi-person passes. While The Anastasini Brothers offer tumbling propelling off one brother’s feet. These are astounding acts that captivate.
In between you get classic bits from Grandma – dropping her bag and flying; conducting the band with the help of a young volunteer, and she and Mr. Joel playing with water. Every act commands attention and brings breathtaking fun. You’ll have a smile on your face from the first musical moments to the finale of the Wallenda’s tight rope tricks.
The performers are uniformly top-notch. Each performer is committed and their exuberance is contagious. Throughout the night the nimble house band, situated on a balcony, alternates between Jazz Age spunk and suspense-building soundtracks during the show’s more daring exploits. This is a hard working troupe, having fun, and good old fashioned fun. You even get to mingle with the performers after the show. Get your tickets quickly to this fabulous circus.
Photos: Maike Schultz
Tickets and show information at bigapplecircus.com. Thru January 7, 2018