‘Fully Charged’

Dustin Portillo clowns around in 'Fully Charged'. Photo special

When 59 cars of the Ringling Brothers and Barnum
&
amp; Bailey train pull into town with 340 members, including
performers, cast, staff, pie car crew, animal care, backstage
departments and concessionaires, you are witnessing a tradition
carrying everything that makes the circus work. Thirty living
quarters coaches, four animal stock cars, two concession storage
cars, 19 flat bed equipment cars, one pie car (diner), one
generator car and one auxiliary generator/shop car make up this
traveling miracle.
When 59 cars of the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey train pull into town with 340 members, including performers, cast, staff, pie car crew, animal care, backstage departments and concessionaires, you are witnessing a tradition carrying everything that makes the circus work. Thirty living quarters coaches, four animal stock cars, two concession storage cars, 19 flat bed equipment cars, one pie car (diner), one generator car and one auxiliary generator/shop car make up this traveling miracle. In this group, there is a nine-member live band with 118 international performers from four continents, with 11 major languages spoken at any given time.

Grab the kids, jump in the car and head for one of two venues: San Francisco and Oakland. The Greatest Show On Earth does not disappoint. It moves at breakneck speed with the music, costumes and the dazzling sounds and colors.

Ringmaster Brian Crawford Scott, a native of San Jose, presents the acts with great panache and flair. He blends with a pleasant voice that melds the production into smooth transitions for each presentation.

Get your adrenaline pumping with the twin Turbines of Steel, Olympic class tumbling, a cycle on a high wire, a bevy of well-cared for and well-trained animals, a man propelled more than 100 feet from a crossbow and lovely production numbers. All are a part of this bombastic production. If your nerves don’t get you, the noise and excitement will. The regular fun and hoopla with clowns, jugglers and flying acts are there for your enjoinment.

Scotty Nguyen’s creative arena covering choreography and Susan Hilferty’s 550 glitzy, imaginative costumes, excellent lighting and sound for this production are a definite asset and seem to get better every year.

The most inventive idea that the circus came up with a few years ago was the “Animal Open House”, and each year the presentation has improved. About 90 minutes before the show, ticket holders are treated to an up close and personal visit with the animals that perform. Signs at each animal’s area tell a little history and interesting facts about them.

Also included in the ticket price is the “All Access Preshow” – up close and personal interaction with the performers on the floor of the venue. The kids are awed and the adults take advantage of a great photo op. Get programs signed by friendly performers, play with the clowns and try on costumes. This is heady stuff for the kids used to the TV screen between them and the real thing. By the time kids get to their seats, they feel they are a part of the performance and the performers are their personal friends. They can even get a chance in a raffle to win a “masterpiece” painted by Asia the elephant.

This 141st edition moves seamlessly from one act to another and seems to get better every year while still keeping the fun and innocence of the circus. Updated showmanship and presentation, with creative consultant Marcia Milgrom Dodge’s tight direction, the show moves without losing momentum or the audience’s attention.

So run away and join the circus. This one is fun, joyful and the kids will grow a little in understanding that there are good, interesting, different things in the world without guns and violence.

***

‘Fully charged’

SAN FRANCISCO

Where: The Cow Palace

When: Sept. 1-5

OAKLAND

Where: Oracle Arena

When: Sept. 8-11

Tickets: $10-$100

Details: (800) 745-3000 or ticketmaster.com

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