Big Apple Circus: Show Review by Amy Wall Lerman

I have never been a fan of the circus.  Not because there’s anything wrong with acrobats, clowns or the flying trapeze.  It’s always been because of the animals.  I don’t enjoy seeing trained wild animals doing tricks.  It looks, and feels, unnatural.  And, frankly, that’s because it is unnatural.

Well, I can honestly say that New York City’s famed “Big Apple Circus” is my kinda’ circus.  The only animals involved are some very agile dogs, some beautiful horses, and an adorable pig all lovingly managed by 3rd generation animal trainer, Jenny Vidbel.  This is a circus that couldn’t offend if they tried.

Even the clowns were unique.  No big red noses, floppy wigs, or hideous face-painting.  Instead the clowns were just a couple of guys who cleverly amused with slap stick antics and the usual buffoonery.  One of the “clowns,” portrayed by comic Mark Gindick, starts out in a business suit at the beginning of the show.  He stumbles into the spotlight under the “Big Top” starting a fun narrative reminiscent of the old adage, “I’m running off to join the circus.”  What else could a wayward businessman glued to his cell phone possibly want?  He joins forces with a rather deft and goofy circus performer portrayed by Adam Kuchler, who, adorned in a shimmery jacket, proceeds to mesmerize us with the manipulation of a stack of boxes.  Like all good clowns, the two comedians entertain the audience while the ring is set up for the next act.

Perhaps the most impressive act was the one my 11 year old son appreciated the least.  Two extremely coordinated acrobats named Virginia and Ihosvanys who hail from Argentina and Cuba respectively, lifting each other with unimaginable strength.  When the lights came up, I actually gasped at the site of Virginia’s muscles.  Not that she was a female body builder, but you could see the strength in her arms, legs and mid-riff.  In their act called “Duo Fusion” they lift each other with a superhero-style strength.  His strength was nothing to shrug off either.  But when I asked my son about it later, he didn’t seem to appreciate what he’d seen.  “Kids today!” (I must be getting old).

The end of the show was worth the wait…the amazing young folks on the flying trapeze.  The Flying Tunizianis are a 3rd generation circus family from Venezuela.  They swung and jumped and flipped and wowed the crowd.  I was pleased they put a net under them.  I can see how that could all go terribly wrong – but there was no need to “send in the clowns” this time.

To TOP it all off…the Ring Master was a woman!  Yay!  Stephanie Monseu, former jeweler and fire eater, of course, played a relatively small role in the show, but I was happy they included that traditional circus performer – because, after all, what good is a circus without clowns, a Ring Master, acrobats, popcorn and cotton candy?

Wild animals?  I for one, did not miss them!

The Big Apple Circus has been going strong since 1977.  It’s an annual event that takes place in the heart of Manhattan – yup…the Big Top is right behind Lincoln Center at Damrosch Park (62nd Street between Columbus and Amsterdam).  The event continues from now through January 27, 2019.  Tickets start as low as $25 depending on the day and time of the show and can go as high as $175+.  It’s good for all ages and runs about 2 hours with a 20 minute intermission.