The Hippo


Aug 22, 2019








Boogie down with the animals at Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. Courtesy photo.

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus presents Built To Amaze!

Where: Verizon Wireless Arena, 55 Elm St., Manchester
When: Thursday, Oct. 2, through 
Sunday, Oct. 5.
Call: 644-5000
Contact the box office for show times and price options

Building a circus
Behind the scenes of The Greatest Show On Earth


If you’re heading to the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, don’t expect to see a completed stage when you walk in — that’ll come later.

The circus is returning to the Verizon Wireless Arena in Manchester from Thursday, Oct. 2, to Sunday, Oct. 5, with a new show called Built to Amaze! 
“The circus train just rolled into town, and the performers are looking to build the circus from the ground up,” said Ashley Vargas, the pre-show host. “It’s a rivalry between the boys and the girls to see who can built the best circus, which is a fun way to get the audience involved.”
Helping out in the construction of the circus will be all of the Ringling Bros. signature acts, like the high-flying acrobatic performers, daring tight-rope walkers and clowns clad in colorful clothing (or, at the very least, the clowns will try not to screw things up). The nine piece band will be accompanying the building process, keeping the construction in time.
In addition to the workers, the circus is also hosting the King Charles Troupe, a group of basketball players who play while riding on unicycles. Vargas said one of the things that makes the team unique is that it features players from 17 different countries.
“They’re really taking basketball to a whole new level,” she said.
Ryan Henning, the assistant animal superintendent of the circus, said what has kept the show entertaining for 143 editions of the original circus show is that the animal line-up, with a few exceptions, is always changing.
“When [people] come to the circus, they expect to see elephants, tigers and horses,” he said. “Our animals change and vary from show to show, depending on the theme of the show. We have camels, llamas, lions, leopards, alpacas, goats. … What the audience will always see is asian elephants. [They] will always be there, hands down.”
Henning said he works with the six asian elephants on tour with the circus; the oldest is 57 years old and the youngest is 8. Depending on the elephants’ physical capabilities and receptive nature of the stress of performing, Henning said sometimes they’re ready to go out on the road at 2 or 3 years old.
“Each elephant might do more shows than another, depending on how acclimated they are to the environment,” he said. “We take them on walks to get them used to the traffic and people. Some adapt and some don’t.”
While Henning didn’t give too much away about what the elephants’ role in building the set will be, he did say that their routine is being modernized with a head-shaking, tail-waggin’ gangnam-style dance.
On a smaller scale, the show will include an elaborate act involving dogs. Alex Emelin, a comedian and leader of the “boys” team, and his wife Irina, use 16 poodles into their act. The poodles perform acrobatic stunts like handstands, large leaps, conga lines and other athletic feats.
“Dogs are a very simple animal, not like a tiger,” Emelin said. “You spend some time with them and play with them, but you also have to care about the poodles looking nice, cleaning and brushing them. That’s the more difficult side, keeping the animal looking nice.”
The circus is hosting a pre-show included with the price of a ticket in which attendees can have a meet-and-greet opportunity with the animals and other performers. They can also test their balance walking on rope wire and watch elephants paint pictures with their trunks.
“Everyone is a part of the pre-show,” Vargas said. “You can get autographs, take pictures. It’s an opportunity to put down your cell phone, come out with the family and see some entertainment.” 
As seen in the October 2, 2014 issue of the Hippo.

®2019 Hippo Press. site by wedu