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Preview: Circus follows tradition, builds on new theme

The Ringling show “Built to Amaze” features new choreography and a new ringmaster, Andre McClain, along with all of the familiar elements. The show is debuting in Tampa before setting off on a two-year tour.

CAROLINA HIDALGO | Times

The Ringling show “Built to Amaze” features new choreography and a new ringmaster, Andre McClain, along with all of the familiar elements. The show is debuting in Tampa before setting off on a two-year tour.

TAMPA

The Greatest Show on Earth attempts a fresh approach to its age-old show with this year's theme, "Built to Amaze." With clowns, animals and trained entertainers, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey's traditional circus is speckled with a motif to add cohesion to the variety of acts. • The "Built to Amaze" concept plays out as the audience gets a behind-the-scenes perspective on how the circus is built, from seeing the visible opening disarray to watching how the performers prep. The construction theme is heavy, with elephants in hard hats, cleanup crew clown skits, caution tape and girls in sexy workman uniforms. • Most of the show becomes an exercise of entertainment on the premise of gender competition, with Team Pink (girls) versus Team Blue (boys). Through lighthearted skits and main stunts, each team attempts to garner audience approval until the ringmaster decides that both sides should come together as a circus dream team. • The parade of nonstop entertainment features some of Ringling's classic circus acts and a few new ones.

What's new

Ringmaster Andre McClain has been part of Ringling for more than eight years, but this is his debut performance as ringmaster.

The introduction of the youngest female human cannonball, Elliana Grace, who is gracefully shot more than 100 feet at 65 mph out of a cannon.

Gymnasts, the Tower Tumblers, complete high-flying synchronized flips and tumbles in the trampoline wall act.

A comedic pair, Duo Fusion, appears throughout the show with kooky tricks like tap dancing on snow skis.

The King Charles Troupe brings back a unicycle basketball game after a several-year hiatus.

Usual suspects

The tightrope act Danguir Troupe rides bicycles, leapfrogs and balances on nervous stretches of high wire.

Tigers, perched on platforms behind a secure metal cage, obey the trainer and take turns hopping like rabbits, rolling over or walking upright.

Elephants, in tail-to-trunk procession, circle the ring, play dead or spin on tiny metal platforms to Gangnam Style.

Best moments

Black, white and miniature poodles form conga lines, twirl, walk on two legs and leap over one another in the dog show segment.

Duo Solys, two married couples who do a hand-balancing act, pair off for displays of endurance and concentration. Plus, the wives anchor their husbands while wearing high heels.

Multiple gymnasts fly down an extended springboard runway while doing consecutive no-handed front and back flips. The lone female executes all her maneuvers in a long flowing dress.

Preparations for the show have spanned 18 months, with the final cast practicing at the fairgrounds for the past six weeks. The cast represents 17 countries. Tampa gets to see the world premiere of "Built to Amaze" before it sets out on a two-year tour.

Stephanie Bolling can be reached at sbolling@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3408.

if you go

Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey Circus

The show continues through Sunday at the Tampa Bay Times Forum in Tampa. Showtimes are 7:30 p.m. today, 7:30 p.m. Friday, 11:30 a.m., 3:30 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, and 1 and 5 p.m. Sunday. Run time: 2 hours, including a 15-minute intermission. Doors open for a one-hour, all access preshow. Ticket holders can walk through the outdoor animal open house 90 minutes before the show. $16-$85. (813) 301-2500; tampabaytimesforum.com.

Preview: Circus follows tradition, builds on new theme 01/02/13 [Last modified: Monday, December 31, 2012 4:13pm]

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