by Carol Muse Evans
Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey’s XTREME will come to Birmingham’s Birmingham-Jefferson Civic Center Jan. 19-22, 2017, in several performances, and the entire circus has been revamped around an ice and an intergalactic theme sure to amaze and entertain all ages. Gone are the elephants, but ice skaters will ramp up the excitement with more dynamic, unique talent, according to Johnathan Lee Iverson, the 18-year-veteran ringmaster of the show.
“We’ve never used ice before, but we have some extraordinary skaters….and many of the regular staff have learned to skate,” Iverson says.
“The ice is exciting, and has increased the pace of the show,” says Birmingham native and orchestra conductor Wages Argott, who has been with the circus for 11 years. “It is a fascinating, huge new element and all acts are involved with the ice except for the very center ring, mostly for animal acts,” Argott says.
The Intergalactic Circus Odyssey takes patrons to fictitious planets in different parts of the galaxy when some of the circus acts have been abducted. Each planetary stop means adventure as the ringmaster goes to find the abducted acts, and we see each planet, the act, and so much more – on ice.
The video screen and projection onto the ice is fantastic, Argott adds. “And this is our most successful theming of music for a show – it is big, cinematic and epic.”
Back are the flying trapeze artists, the globe of steel, clown alley, and the greatest menagerie of lions, tigers, horses, mini donkeys, alpacas, goats and the rescue dogs, Iverson adds.
We also have ice skaters from all over the world, Argott says. With the combination of ice, the circus, and the music, this is the best line of entertainment value for a family,” he says.
Visitors can see high-wire wizards, powerful strongmen, BMX trick riders, trampoline daredevils, inconceivable contortionists, a high-flying human cannonball, a bungee aerial skydiving display and an international assembly of more than 300 cast and crew for 2 ½ hours of thrilling entertainment.
The circus animal walk the day before is gone, but there is an animal open house 90 minutes before each show, where visitors can learn about the care and training of the animals, talk with trainers and see some acrobats, Iverson adds. This usually takes place outside the arena, near the stables. Try on custom costumes, learn circus skills – like juggling – from the famous Ringling Bros. Clown Alley. Together with the show, your family receives more than three hours of family fun with your ticket purchase.
“The circus isn’t for everybody, but the circus welcomes everyone,” Iverson adds.
Carol Muse Evans is publisher and editor of Birmingham Parent.