The circus came back to town last night, as Feld Entertainment's Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey presented Legends at Orlando's Amway Center. Ringling Bros.'s Legends, their latest annual circus spectacular, is loosely inspired by mythical creatures like the unicorn, and features the expected lineup of international acts and performing animals.
Here's a video of the famous paintings pachyderm preshow:
This video show the clowns' jump-rope warmup act:
Finally, here is the show's complete opening parade:
Acts featured in this year's production include a "globe of steel" with 8 high-flying motorcycles; trained lions and tigers who seemed more interested in having their bellies scratched than jumping through hoops; a menagerie of dogs, goats, llamas, and kangaroos; and a traditional trapeze display. Impressive new Asian acrobats -- riding synchronized bicycles, jumping on poles, tossing yo-yo-like diablos -- add a Cirque-like feel to some sections, and a segment where girls hang from a human mobile by their hair is nearly surreal.
Unfortunately, it's the start of Legends' tour, and the lack of polish shows. The trick horseback riders (who looked dangerously unsteady last year) missed multiple tricks, background choreography was exuberant but distractingly sloppy, transitions between scenes alternated between slick and awkward, and the evening's overall pacing felt unusually stilted and anti-climactic. I'm not one that thinks a circus has to have a storyline, but if Ringling insists on using on, it should at least make a little sense and have some relation to the show; this year's Legends theme had little impact on the action until deep into act 1, and the "wooly mammoth" (which isn't a legend, just extinct) looked laughable.
Critiques aside, Legends is still a dazzling display, and at nearly 3 1/2 hours with preshows, it's a great value for your entertainment dollar. Just be prepared to carry sleeping kids back to the car after it finally winds down at nearly 10 p.m.