Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Is Back After 6 Years With Tons of Changes
Since the 19th century, the circus has been one of the most famous family-friendly attractions in the world. Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey go all the way back to 1919 as The Greatest Show on Earth, often featuring clowns, animal acts, and trapeze artists. In recent decades, the circus came under fire for its treatment of animals and the pandemic seemed to close it down for good. However, now Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey are returning with a brand-new show for a modern audience after six years on hiatus.
Animal acts are out and video screens are in. Juliette Feld, COO of Feld Entertainment has overseen the circus brand since 1967. She shared, “This is a huge production. We’ve got 75 performers, three different video screens, special effects, and flying. We re-conceived what’s possible and came out with a new production that’s relevant to today’s audiences and upholds that promise of being the Greatest Show on Earth.”
The reimagined show kicks off today, Sept. 29 in Bossier City, Lousiana, and will travel all around the country for the next two years, visiting over 50 cities along the way. Among other changes, the show will no longer have a ringmaster or emcee. There will be more performers and diversity among the acts including Mongolian jump ropers and Cuban acrobats. Vocalist Lauren Irving will play Aria in the show, performing several original songs to move the story along.
There was one thing the circus company never wanted to leave behind: clowns. Jan Damm plays Nick Nack, a speaking clown who doesn’t wear traditional face paint. Damm explained, “I’ve never worn the make-up. It was an important element once when clowns had to emote with audiences who were 300 feet away. But modern audiences are used to going to a Taylor Swift concert and seeing her face on a video screen that’s two stories tall! We have these amazing video screens as well and when we appear on them, we want to project the kind of human image that audiences are used to seeing if they go to a big rock concert.”
Nick Nack the Clown also has a special new buddy, a robotic dog named Bailey. Damm added, “She’s a little bit of a puppy robot. I take her for walks, we have a dance contest and she gets up to mischief. She’s goofy and unique, but has a charisma that audiences can relate to.” What’s your take on the new, reimagined circus? Will you take your family to a show? Click here to view more information and purchase tickets.