review by Shannon Milliman
Lights! Music! Fire! Step right up! Prepare for a once in a lifetime event that will knock your leopard tights off! Attending opening night of Barnum Bash at the Rose Quarter, I stepped back into childhood wonder believing again in the impossible and feeling sheer amazement at the feats of human strength and balance that disciplined humans could attain. As for Sunny (10), Moses (6), Adrianna (6) and Rainbow (3) – it was life changing.
The fun started with pre-show activities including a performer who helped my children learn party tricks with a hula hoop and the opportunity to come within yards of a real, live elephant! The show began and we were wowed with incredible acts including a live band with an especially charging saxophone, a sweetly choreographed basketball game on unicycles, puppies dancing to “All the Single Ladies,” impressive routines and tricks with elephants, camels, horses (even miniature ones!), a man on fire who lived to tell the tale, and silly miming antics which made the kids laugh but stunned me with Charlie Chaplin physical comedy prowess. The manner in which the entire show was weaved together was beautiful, magical and memorable. Fear rumbling in the pit of my stomach and constant silent prayer that these acrobats literally walking on ropes upside down would keep the momentum required and not fall to their demise before our eyes was a bit much for my heart rate.
Other acts I really enjoyed included a dancing act with a small, beautiful woman and her stunning fedora topped partner who engaged the crowd with perfect parallel balancing; three motorcycles buzzing like bees in a steel cage perfectly spinning in circles and for the grand bow on their act they removed their helmets, revealing their identity. My ten year old Sunny had a pleased expression on her face when she realized the most daring rider of all was a woman with raven black hair.
Hoops, costumes, color and an impressive degree of concentration and cooperation act after act sparked in me a desire to dig my old, mildewed ballet shoes out from storage and revisit those wonderful, grueling rewards of doing something difficult. Although the youngest enjoyed the show, it was far too late for her. I recommend the matinee for younger kids. She fell asleep in my arms during the show, although I am certain visions of dancing elephants and virtual fairies in the sky graced her dreams. As for the kids, as one might guess, they are ready to run away with the circus, but before they do, Rainbow’s 4th birthday approaching next week will now be circus themed and her resident expert, trusty siblings have graciously volunteered to be the entertainment.