The greatest show on Earth lacks greatness

Tiffany Strong

Come see the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus at Quicken Loans Arena for a hair-raising good time, with your host, Bello Nock.

Credit: Ben Breier


Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus

Where? Quicken Loans Arena

When? Now through Oct. 31

How much? $15 to $70

Stater rating (out of four): ***


Acrobats, aerialists and animals, oh my!

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey are back at it again with the 135 edition of The Greatest Show on Earth. The three-ring circus of entertainment advertises an action-packed show for children of all ages, but flops for the older audience members who lack imagination. The young-hearted are invited to witness more than 100 human and animal performers mastering their tricks of the trade right in front of their very eyes.

This year, the circus has more to offer than crazy clowns, amazing animals, startling stunts and Bello Nock the “Hairdevil.”

No two zebras have the same stripes-

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey is demonstrating fun in an educational light this year. Random people out of the audience are encouraged during each act to ask questions about the animals and ringmasters. Questions can range from what types of animals are shown, to where they come from and how they are treated.

How animals are treated is a main concern for many and an excuse for some to not attend the circus. Although it is a common belief that the trainers carry whips to hurt the animals if they disobey, this is not the case at all, according to Tyron McFarlan, the head ringmaster of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey.

The whips are viewed by the animals as an extension of the trainer’s arm to show gestures that all animals can see.

Lack of audience makes participation tough

Where did all the circus lovers disappear to? The Quicken Loans Arena, formerly the Gund Arena, can seat 20,500 people, and it seemed like nearly 90 percent of those seats were vacant during the opening weekend of the circus.

Without people, the circus loses its high energy aspect because it relies mainly on audience participation. Without the claps, the clowns will frown.

The All-Access pre-show is one example of the lengths this circus will go to in order to get crowds ready to sit back and enjoy an amazing performance. It provides an hour-long look behind the scenes of the circus. The pre-show is free to every ticket holder as is a chance to mix and mingle with the clowns, acrobats and animals.

The patrons can learn firsthand how to stay in circus shape, train pets like the trainers do and jig and jive with the cast.

What happened in ring two?

One difficult obstacle to overcome is finding the ability to watch every ring. Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey is set up as a three-ring circus where each ring has something different going on.

In one ring, there could be men jumping through hoops, in the middle, there could be dogs performing tricks and in the last, there could be clowns baking a dangerous pizza. It is nearly impossible to watch all the rings at once, so a viewer only gets a glimpse of the full show sometimes.

Basically, if you are looking for an excuse to laugh at dorky clowns, see exotic animals that are not in the back yard or feel like a kid again, the circus is just the event to escape from reality. Take the opportunity to step out of the stressful college day and revisit the carefree side of life.

Contact ALL correspondent Tiffany Strong at [email protected].