As Master of Ceremonies and Circus Historian Steve Smith reveals, because of John Ringling’s bringing his company and his museum to Sarasota, the area abounds with families of people dedicated to the circus and other visual and performing arts. Since the Queen of the Air Dolly Jacobs (daughter of the famous clown Lou) and Pedro Reis formed Circus Sarasota, they’ve been dedicated to having home-town artists perform for home-town families each summer. Their 7th Summer Circus Spectacular has low prices and high quality, also introducing young audiences to the 18th Century Italian court theater as a venue that unites art of past, present, and pointing to the future—like The Ringling itself.
A warm-up by Robb Zeiser, Silent Comedian, both juggles and gets kids from the audience to master the tricks—one, two, three kids and times matching. He also uses audience clapping like music to accompany the tricks and even goes down into the seats to manage balancing props like tumblers and plates. Not the usual audience participation stuff! Mr. Bob comes back with weighty to light-as-air tricks after the historical segment by Dr. Smith, former dean of Clown College, who’s not above donning a clown’s red nose or not donning shoes with otherwise formal wear. Trick roping and whip cracking, Texas Jack Fulbright egged on by his lovely wife makes a lot of HOOP-la, wonderfully improvising new loops when his rope knocks off his ten-gallon hat. Rafael Palacious proves a Master Magician, seemingly cutting off the head and then body of his gorgeous assistant, then making all disappear. He performs several illusions that are equally if not more spectacularly cutting edge—even getting the gal into a relatively tiny basket before slicing through it and then welcoming the wholesome aide in an untouched outfit and out of her confines.
In the esthetic part of the program, Dolly Jacobs becomes a ballerina as she flies around and above the stage and almost all the way out into the audience. She’s a vision in white, like a bird except more versatile. She can fly upside down! There’s no way to top someone who’s controlled the top, so Mr. Robb provides a few down to earth moments of catching spoons, three at a time, in juggled tumblers. His big trick is removing tableclothes from fully set tables, even on uneven ground. Then, like Dolly but downstage center, two new grads from Sailor Circus (now run not by the county School Board but by Circus Sarasota), show off spectacular Feats of Balance. I would put this Duo Romanesc on a par or better with the balancing acts I’ve seen in Las Vegas and at Cirque de Soleil. Like Dolly Jacobs, they make feats not only daring but beautiful. Appropriately, the show ends with The Circus Spectacular Finale, a parade of the artists and bits of their talents on display.
What a fun morning or matinee—for kids to great-grandparents! Aaron Muhl as Managing Director and Bob Halla as Assistant Tech Director head a staff which produces magical effects with lighting and scenic elements.Classical music aids aura and timing.Techies Stefani Lewis and Jenna Luchkiw assure all tech elements meet artistic standards.