The Big Apple Circus prides itself on having no seat more than 50 feet from the ring. Even from the peanut gallery, the shock and awe overwhelms — in a good way.
And while the adults applauded wildly over the spectacular trapeze and juggling acts the other day at the start of the circus’ 41st season, it was a rescue dog riding a tiny car around the ring that really clinched it for the kids.
My 8-year-old son, Bobby, looked on with delight as the crowd-pleasing mutt and his kennel mates performed one trick after another. Supervising them was animal trainer Jenny Vidbel, who brought a team of horses and ponies to add to the fun.
Vidbel isn’t the only woman at the forefront of the circus this year. Taking charge of the proceedings is Stephanie Monseu, a former fire-eater turned ringmaster.
Then there’s Argentinian strong woman Virginia Tuells, who easily balances her equally muscle-bound husband, Ihosvanys Perez, on her back. Together, the pair call themselves Duo Fusion.
If there were any weak links in the circus chain, they were the male comedians. One clown’s shtick revolved around playing a hapless audience member who, while talking on his cellphone, wandered into the spotlight. It didn’t quite work and made my kids miss “Grandma,” the Big Apple favorite who left under a cloud of controversy last year, all the more. Grandma was the glue whose hilarious, ongoing storyline kept everything together.
Still, there’s a lot to make up for in her absence, including the mysterious “horizontal juggler,” Victor Moiseev, who performs a spectacular type of wizardry with glowing red balls. Spicy Circus, a trampoline troupe from Montreal, adds to the amusement factor as they ping from a 16-foot windowed wall onto two giant springboards.
Every act goes down easier with the signature craft cocktails grown-ups can enjoy at their seats. Sipping my Big Apple (vodka, lemon, rosemary, sparkling apple juice and apple-y gummy candies, $10) while the kids munched on $6 soft pretzels from Brooklyn’s Leske’s Bakery and $10 candy apples from Li-Lac Chocolates in the West Village, I felt my five senses bombarded from all sides. And yes, that’s a good thing!
The Big Apple Circus runs through Jan. 27. Tickets $25 and up. Damrosch Park, Lincoln Center; BigAppleCircus.com
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