The Big Apple Circus Is Our Homgrown Circus and It’s Back with Metamorphosis, One of Its Best Editions in Many Seasons
By Ellis Nassour
The Big Apple Circus is as synonymous with NYC as the Empire State Building, Rockefeller Center, Radio City Music Hall, Metropolitan Museum, MOMA and U.N. What better family holiday gift than a visit to our very own one-ring extravaganza? It has soared back into Lincoln Center’s Damrosch Park "on wings of artifice and illusion" and an "actual" spaceship for its 37th season. The tent’s up, the sawdust’s been spread and the BAC’s ready to whisk you into an astonishing world of wonder with its new edition Metamorphosis, which runs through January 11.
There’ve been big changes to accommodate families with young children: a buy-one-ticket-get-one-free 75-minute, no intermission, show on Wednesdays at 11 A.M. And you can have your cake and eat it, too – so to speak – on Thursdays at 6:30 there are full-length shows with specially-priced tickets that include a box supper [with vegetarian option].
For a great gift to the whole family, don’t miss BAC’s very special Holiday Season Family Fundraiser, with something for everyone, on November 22. This is the time to book. It’ll be filled with memories that’ll last a lifetime, so don’t forget your camera. It’s as close as you can get to the excitement of the kids waking up Christmas morning and running to the tree to rip open their gifts. Details follow below.
Metamorphosis is crammed with astonishing artists from six countries and edge-of-your-seat thrills and chills — along with tons of fun. At the top of the show there’s magic to do in the opening charivari [production number] in BAC’s European-style one-ring show as returning ringmaster, the irrepressible John Kennedy Kane, transports you into a dreamscape of enchantment that redefines circus.
A long-time favorite of BAC audiences, the U.S.’s Jenny Vidbel returns with her magnificent steeds that are so close you can not only touch them, but also stare them in the eyes and horse whisper, if you so desire. It’s an elegant, polished act that’ll you’re your eyes popping out. Then, and it might be a first, she mixes horses, camels, ponies and a llama. It’s a prelude to a huge change of pace with a mixed bag of tricks: laugh-inducing cadenzas of interacting ponies, donkeys, goats, plus rambunctious rescued pooches jumping rope and riding scooters.
There’s contortion and there’s contortion, and there’s Mongolia’s Odbayasakh Dorjoo giving new meaning to flexibility as she reinvents contortion manipulating her svelte body into a cube. Her co-star, Armenian native Tatevik Seyranyan, defies the law of gravity teetering on the edge of equilibrium in a breathtaking balancing act.
You’ve seen rolla bolla acts, you just never knew that’s what they are called. You will after you see the brave Tatevik Seyranyan risk her life atop a wobbly high stack of steel square and cones on a huge rolling pin and, get this, juggles. For something uniquely different, Russia’s cunning conjurors of the
quick-change, Vladimir and Olga Smirnov challenge you to keep up as they transform themselves in the blink of an eye from one colorful costume to another. Don’t ever tell them they have nothing to wear!
Those way out Star Trek adventures pale next to what Giovanni Anastasini and Irene Espana do as they arrive in an orbiting spaceship and bedazzle with jaw-dropping acrobatics. The Anastasini Brothers show off their skills with Chinese yoyos, whirling double-tops, and jaw-dropping foot juggling. Not to be outdone, Russia’s agile Aniskin Troupe is dauntless, cavorting topsy-turvy: swooping, swirling, and bouncing on their giant trampoline. For the exciting finale, they soar though the air and to new heights with the greatest of ease on trapezes doing unimaginable leaps of faith and double and triple somersaults.
You say, bring in the clowns? Well, they’re there at BAC – France’s Francesco
delights with rollicking bits that’ll bring joy and tons of laughter.
The BAC creative team includes director West Hyler, Tony-winning set designer Todd Rosenthal, costume designer Mirena Rada, choreographer Antoinette DiPietropolo, and illusion designer Jim Steinmeyer. The Circus features a rousing band under music director Rob Slowik, with music by Jack Herrick, artistic director of the Red Clay Ramblers.
For November 22’s Big Apple Holiday Fundraiser, from doors opening at 3:30 P.M. until after 7 P.M. there’re photo opts galore with an interactive pre-show with a large contingent of BAC’s Clown Care Unit, family refreshments – juices, sodas, snacks, passed hors d’oeuvres; and for the adults, wine and cocktails. This is followed by a boxed supper, along with hot dogs and soft drinks. Then there’s the performance of Metamorphosis followed by a post-show party with live music, dessert with the artists, and gift bags filled with BAC goodies.
Under Big Apple’s heated big top, there’re no bad seats as none are more than 50 feet from the ring. Of course, some are better – and more comfortable. If you want to literally be in the show, go for the ringside seats.
Tickets for The Big Apple’s Metamorphosis are $25 – $75; $95, center ring box and mezzanine; $135, premium center ring; and $175, premium center ring and VIP lounge with refreshments and program. Purchase by calling (212) 962-5471 or (888) 541-3750, at www.bigapplecircus.org, and the Damrosch Park box office [where there’re no service charges]. Some packages are perk-loaded.
BAC box office hours are: Tuesday through Friday from 10 A.M. to 8 P.M., and Saturday – Monday from 10 – 6 — 8 when there is a 7 P.M. performance. For group sales and information on wheelchair-access and seating, call (800) 922-3772.
Use the website to also purchase tickets to BAC’s Saturday, November 8 first-ever cineplex event throughout the metropolitan area with showings of Metamorphosis in deep Hi-Def. Manhattan theatres are the Regal Union Square 14 [12:30 P.M.; $15, adults; $10, children] and City Cinema Beekman [11 A.M.; $15].
BIG APPLE CIRCUS INFORMATION
BAC is a not-for-profit performing arts and outreach institution committed to invigorating the communities it serves with classical circus. Tax-deductible contributions made by corporations, foundations and individuals enable BAC to reach diverse audiences through such outreach programs as Clown Care,, which brings circus joy to 16 pediatric facilities across country; Vaudeville Caravan does the same for those in residential care facilities; and Circus After School and Circus for All!, with free, discounted, and subsidized tickets to schools and not-for-profit organizations.
The crown jewel is their much-acclaimed Circus of the Senses, a performance enabling individuals with vision or hearing impairments and other disabilities to experience the circus through wireless headsets utilizing state-of-the-art infrared transmission, American Sign Language interpreters, and "touch sessions."
For membership, free e-cards, coloring book pages, or to book a Big Apple Circus birthday party or order Circus-to-Go for a customized performance for a special occasion, visit www.bigapplecircus.org. Click on the Circopedia link for circus history, photos, and videos. Follow BAC on Facebook..