‘Dragons’ in town

Grab the kids jump in the car and head for one of two venues – Oakland and San Jose – and get set for the annual circus treat. This edition of the Greatest Show on Earth does not disappoint. This year they bring you “Dragons,” a remarkable presentation that brings together mystical dragon lore and entertainment.
P.T. Barnum’s philosophy was, “I will always entertain you.” Considering Life Magazine at one time voted him one of the 100 of the most influential people of the millennium, we must agree that he and his associates have delivered the goods with the Greatest Show On Earth. The show moves at breakneck speed with music, costumes and dazzling sounds and colors.
This circus offers the usual animal fare: tigers, lions, horses, goats, dogs, cats and the largest herd of Asian elephants in the world. Then there are the Cossack Riders, Teeterboard Titans, motorcycle high-wire stunts and the only double-decker trapeze act in the world, just to name a few of the offerings that flash before your eyes  in this kaleidoscope of fascinating acts.
Ringmaster Johnathan Lee Iverson presents the acts with great panache and flair. He blends songs while riding production floats that meld the production into smooth transitions for each presentation.
The most inventive idea the circus came up with a few years ago was the “Animal Open House.” Beginning about 90 minutes before the show, ticket holders are treated to an up close and personal visit with the animals and handlers. Signs at each animal’s area tell a little history and interesting facts about them.
Also included in your ticket price is the “All Access Preshow” about 30 minutes before the show. This allows for up close and personal interaction with the performers. The kids are awed and the adults take advantage of a great photo op. They can get their programs autographed by friendly performers. They play with the clowns. They can get a close up view of an elephant and other four-legged creatures. This is heady stuff for the kids that are used to the TV screen between them and the real thing. By the time they go to their seats for the performance they feel they are a part of the performance and the clowns and performers are their personal friends.
This edition is a smoother, classier circus than previous productions. They still keep the fun and innocence, but updated showmanship and presentation with tight direction keeps the show moving.
So run away and join the circus. This one is joyful and kids will enjoy the experience and grow a little in understanding that there are good, interesting, different things in the world without guns and violence.

Where: Oakland at the Oracle Arena                           
When: Through Aug. 12
Where: HP Pavilion at San Jose
When: Aug. 15 through Aug. 18
Tickets: $15-$100, opening night ticket special $15.
Details: 800-745-3000 or visit ticket master.com.

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