The Greatest Show on Earth, Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey Circus, is at the XL Center in Hartford through the weekend. I took two of my kids to the Friday morning performance. I’ve seen a few shows at the XL Center now and Ringling Bros & Barnum and Bailey Circus used the space in the venue in the most creative way I have seen yet.
I was particularly impressed with the level of detail in the circus. An enormouse opening act with every performer kicked off the show. For the first time at any show I’ve seen, they have a live band. It makes for a much fuller sound that compliments the show.
The show has everything you expect from a circus, as though the whole concept of circus was defined by what Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey offer. Trained horses and trick riders started off the show. The tiger and lion tamer had his hands full with nine big cats, one of which was particularly frisky.
The high-wire act has evolved considerably since the lone man with the pole. This show uses motorcycles with aerial acrobats suspended underneath. Another aerial performance incorporated large, transparent spheres with dancers inside. They looked like living Christmas ornaments. We saw women lifted by their hair while they performed. Ouch! There were also flying acrobats, trapeze artists, clowns (of course), trained ponies, trained dogs, trained cats (yes!), and trained elephants.
Sometimes things go so smoothly that we forget that these are real people who are attempting these amazing feats. During the show, one of the performers missed their mark and had a very minor tumble. While he was perfectly fine, it helped reinforce exactly how skilled and practiced the Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey Circus performers are.
What Parents Need to Know:
- Like every show, it is loud.
- Get to the show an hour early and enjoy the “all access” pre-show to enjoy some special interaction.
- The show is slightly over two hours long and the 15 minute intermission comes after an hour and 15 minutes.
- Every seat is a good enough seat to enjoy the show. Some people from the most expensive seats were brought onto the performance floor during a part of the show.
- The show moves very quickly from one act to the next. You can head to the bathroom when the motorcycles on wires come up.