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The Ringling circus — and 3 million rhinestones — come to town

The "Greatest Show on Earth" brings the world premiere of its new show "Legends" to Tampa this month, in addition to the usual daredevilry, stunts, clowns and lots of animals, through Sunday at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.

"Legends" summons mysterious and mythical creatures of the past including unicorns, a Pegasus and a woolly mammoth. But the circus itself is a legend all on its own, with deep roots in 19th century Americana and performers who come from generations of circus families.

There are more than 100 performers, including a nine-member live band, and they come from more than 20 countries. (The major languages spoken backstage include English, Hungarian, Moroccan, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Chinese, Guarani and Ukrainian).

Then there are the animals, 85 of them on tour with "Legends," including nine elephants, nine tigers, six lions and 20 horses. Not to mention dogs, pigs, goats, donkeys, llamas and two kangaroos.

There are more than 550 costumes in the production, with more than 100 hats, and nearly 1,000 shoes. And to bring on the bling, producers say more than 3.1 million rhinestones and sequins were applied to the costumes for this year's production.

But of course there has to be a big finish.

Eight confetti canons are used in the finale number of each performance. In the course of a one-year tour, more than 2,000 pounds of confetti explode into the crowds.

. If you go

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus

The legendary circus is today and Friday at 7:30 p.m., Saturday at 11 a.m., 3 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 1 and 5 p.m.

Tickets: $16-$70. See ringling.com.

Pre-show: Arrive an hour early to take part in the all-access pre-show where fans are invited down to the show floor to try on costumes, learn circus skills, meet the performers and get their picture taken with the clowns. The pre-show is free, included with admission ticket.

The Ringling circus — and 3 million rhinestones — come to town 12/31/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, December 31, 2013 5:57pm]
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