Residents wanting to escape the Valley heat can catch The Greatest Show on Earth this weekend at the Selland Arena in Fresno.
Built To Amaze!, the last of Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey ongoing tours to pass through the Valley, is sure to delight “children of all ages” with its modern choreography and music, stunning costumes and some fresh acts.
The performers and the audience help “build” a circus in the more than two-hour-long show.
All of the usual crowd pleasers — or the nuts and bolts — are there, including the clowns, elephants, tigers, gymnasts, tightrope walkers and flying trapeze. Then Ringling throws in a little something extra.
The King Charles Troupe — 10 men who look like the Harlem Globetrotters on unicycles — brings a unique act to the show. Audience members can’t take their eyes off of the one-wheeled high-speed action as the performers show off their basketball skills while weaving in and out of one other.
Alex and Irina Emelin, an animal-training couple from Russia, keep the show moving along with comedy, magic, and their crowd-favorite poodle performance. Irina’s affection for the dogs is apparent, which makes the performance even more enjoyable. The Human Cannonball, Elliana Grace, makes Ringling circus history with a 100-foot launch out of a 24-foot cannon.
The husband-and-wife balancing and contortion artists who use their bodies as building materials receive a lot of “oohs and ahhs” from the crowd, especially inspiring because it seems the petite woman is doing most of the heavy lifting.
As always, the fun starts 90 minutes before show time, when all ticket-holders can visit the Animal Open House and ask animal care staff about the four-legged performers. For those who can bear the heat, it’s fun to see the animals up close.
An hour before show time guests can enter the Selland Arena to watch performers show off their juggling and balancing skills and pose for photos. They can also try on circus costumes and run through an inflatable obstacle course in the hour long Pre-Show Party.
The best thing about Ringling shows is that there is a little something for everyone. However, Built To Amaze! didn’t pack as much of a punch as the other two ongoing tours — Fully Charged, which came to Fresno in 2011, and last year’s Dragons. Perhaps it was the smaller cast or fewer dangerous stunts. Still, a few highlight acts are a must see when the circus comes to town.