There were plenty of thrills and lots of laughs on the opening night of Circus 1903- The Golden Age of Circus at Melbourne’s Regent Theatre.
Providing the thrills (and occasional spills) were some of the world’s best circus performers. The laughs came from ringmaster and magician David Williamson.
Having interviewed Williamson for Melbourne Where magazine I was anticipating he would have a wonderful rapport with the audience. I wasn’t disappointed. He showed his world famous illusionist skills and worked brilliantly with several young children chosen from the audience. These audience participation sessions were entertaining for both kids and adults alike. They also allowed equipment to be set up for upcoming acts, thus ensuring the show provided non-stop entertainment.
Choosing a favourite act is near impossible as they were all fantastic and spotlighted the tremendous skills and abilities of the performers. Although there were a few spills, after reading reviews of previous shows I am now wondering if these were part of some acts.
Of course there were some acts where a slip would be tragic and fortunately none occurred. These acts included the aerial swing-and-catch routine from Canada’s Anny LaPlante and Andrei Kalesnikau, aerialist Elena Gatilova from the Ukraine and the tightrope team The Lopez Family.
Any slips from Florian Blummell AKA The Cycling Cyclone from Germany, could have also been tragic given the various and unthinkable ways he rode his bike!
One of the most amazing acts was Senayet Assefa Amara’s Elastic Dislocationist. What this contortionist from Ethiopia could do with her body is quite remarkable and really should be impossible.
The Rossi Brothers received some of the biggest cheers on the night for their foot juggling performance. The act sees one brother lying with his legs in the air and using his feet to effortlessly spin the other brother. This was one of those acts where I feel there was more showmanship than meets the eye!
Other highly entertaining acts included the teeterboard routine from The Flying Fins (Arthur Ivankovich, AJ Saltalamacchia and Petter Linsky), knife-throwing courtesy of The Perilous Perigo (aka Mexico’s Alfonso Lopez) , club-juggling display from Frenchman Francois Borie and Russia’s Mikhail Sozonov’s Rola Bola.
Some of the biggest cheers on the night came for two of the `stars’ of the show, Queenie a giant African elephant and her calf Karanga. The producers of Circus 1903, who are also behind the magic show The Illusionists, teamed up with the award puppeteers from War Horse to create the two life-size elephants. Thanks to the elephants’ design and the skills of the puppeteers operating them, they seemed a natural part of the show.
In devising Circus 1903, creative and executive producer Simon Painter’s aim was to take the circus back to its roots and create the grandeur, sights and sounds to make the show relevant to today’s audiences. He’s certainly been successful so much so that my companion for the night, Maggie Walsh, a keen circus goer since a young age, described it as the best she has seen.
Circus 1903 is on at Melbourne’s Regent Theatre until January 14. Visit the Circus 1903 website for more information.
*Photo credit: Mark Turner.
Jenny Burns attended the opening night of Circus 1903 as a guest of the production.