Big Apple Circus Delivers! One Class Act! Review by Antonia Kasper-Hinman

My husband and I took our daughter (age 8) to The Big Apple Circus celebrating their 40th Anniversary Season at Lincoln Center.  All I can say is “Wow!” This circus is unbelievably entertaining, polished, and sophisticated….more like an exquisite Broadway Show. (director Mark Lonergan  and choreographer, associate director Antoinette DiPietropolo)

Immediately upon walking into the covered and contained entrance, I noted the striking ambience– clean, classy and classic. The pathway leading towards the single ring was a royal blue carpet which somehow soothed us, as if we were flowing along a calming river. There was a velvet-roped photo area similar to the red carpet affairs with large gold letters reading BIG APPLE CIRCUS on the wall behind us.  We asked someone nearby to take our photo.  Within the first five minutes of entering Big Apple Circus, we all knew we were in for a treat!

We continued our short walk until the blue pathway opened up into a pond-shaped area dotted with concession stands. I was even impressed how sophisticated the various vendor stands were decorated, nuancing an art deco 1920’s-40’s era, which also somehow created a timeless spirit. (Scenic Designer Anita La Scala and Rob Bissinger)

My daughter squealed with delight over the sights and smells!  “Oh, Mommy look! Cotton candy, popcorn, slushies, face-painting, toys with lights!  Can we take a picture on that elephant?” She was referring to a medium sized statue.  After the photographer took our photo, my husband lifted my her off of the fake elephant, and we made our way exploring the various booths.  At the entrance to the main attraction, we were greeted by ushers dressed in 1940’s uniforms who chauffeured us up a smooth ramp to the famous single tent.

The one centered ring was more like a stage illuminated by rich cool blue hues. The lighting was highly impressive and easy on the eyes. (Designed by Tony Award-Winning Jeff Croiter). Everyone was seated up close, within 50 feet of the center ring.

There was a small lively band dressed in tuxedoes playing popular music in the back of the ring which set the scene. (music direction by Rob Slowik) As we were seated in our cozy theatre seats, my daughter hopped onto my husband’s lap, not to get a better view, but because she was full of excitement and anticipation.   Though the event hadn’t actually begun, we were already sold on The Big Apple Circus! 


The tall, majestic ringmaster, Tyron “Ty” McFarlan introduced the entire circus family wearing gorgeous, sparkling costumes (Costume Designer  Amy Clark) as they all took a place in the ring, giving us a quick sample of their expertise. Then a woman dangling in a ring floated high into the air twirling into beautiful forms.  After a few splendid seconds, the floating lady landed back down on earth and all the circus performers disappeared into blackness–reading themselves for their very special acts.

Gamal Garcia Tuniziani appeared sporadically throughout the show juggling everything from multiple bowling pins to tennis balls forming spectacular solar-system like shapes. Jan Damm balanced on cylinders and small boards building his way up with unbelievable skill and balance.

Then beautiful Elayne Kramer, the world renowned contortionist/hand balancer, amazed the crowd with her seemingly impossible contortions, twisting her body with ease like a candy Twizzler. She concluded her routine by balancing on a bar with only her hands while folding her body backwards like a sandwich.  Then she took a bow and arrow with her FEET and shot the arrow with her toes—popping a distant balloon!

No circus is complete without a clown.  And these two clowns were big-hearted and hilarious!  Barry Lubin, (Grandma the Clown) coupled with Joel Jeske (playing more of the straight man) made everyone laugh as they kept the circus seamlessly entertaining throughout the ring’s technical transitions.

As the ring’s terrain was magically transformed, the tone changed from funny to elegant when Jenny Vidbel, the animal trainer, entered the ring with her black and white miniature ponies. Later, the larger graceful horses galloped along.  Finally, she brought out everyone’s best friends, the dogs: that awed us with their obstacle course and made us smile with their jovial tricks.

The Trapeze act was absolutely astonishing!  The Flying Tunizianis (which featured Ammed Tuniziani) defied gratuity while flying above us.  They flipped from one person to another on opposite ends of the tent without breaking their pendulum-like rhythm.

There was a brief intermission, but none of us wanted to leave our seats in fear we would miss something spectacular in the second half.

Dandino and Luciana hopped onto a tiny platform and performed daredevil acts in their original Roller Skating Act.

Then the Anastasini Brothers (Giuliano and Fabio) appeared keeping this circus full throttle as they performed their Icarian (or foot juggling) act.

And finally, The Show Stopper:  The Fabulous Wallendas and the Seven Person Pyramid.

As if we weren’t gasping enough with astonishment already, The Wallendas High Wire Act had the audience holding their breath.  This featured Nik Wallenda who is a 7th generation member of the famous Wallenda family(Nik is legendary as the only person to walk over Niagara Falls and The Grand Canyon on a high-wire) The audience was captivated watching the 7 person pyramid.  This is a guest specialty act performed in celebration of the Big Apple Circus 40th Anniversary.  I recommend everyone catch this historical stunt before they leave!

While exiting the tent, the circus family greeted the audience, posed for photos and signed autographs.  My daughter was thrilled to be able to have a photo with some of the circus members!

The Big Apple Circus is a wonderfully memorable experience and a great holiday excursion!

If you are looking for a show that will happily tantalize all of your children’s senses… I highly recommend The Big Apple Circus.

Visit  The last performance is January 7, 2018.

  1. One Response to “Big Apple Circus Delivers! One Class Act! Review by Antonia Kasper-Hinman”

  2. Wonderful words. Can’t thank you enough. And I am Grandma. So glad you had a great experience!!!

    By Barry on Nov 8, 2017