Wednesday, June 17, 2009

It was a circus at the Magic Castle

A few fellow LA Moms Blog contributors and I abracadabra'd ourselves over to The Magic Castle in Hollywood yesterday to get the lowdown on Zing Zang Zoom, the latest circus incarnation from Ringling Bros. Barnum and Bailey.

Unfortunately, CC was a little too young to attend the illusion-focused event -- only children 6 and older were admitted -- but the kid in me came out as director Shanda Sawyer, special effects chief Jim Steinmeyer and "Zingmaster" Alex Ramon chatted about the upcoming show. It spirits itself to the Staples Center July 8-12.

Magic, for one, was never part of any circus I attended. (An elephant relieving himself mere feet away from my seat? Now that's what I remember.) There's also a storyline! And characters! Who would've thought?

In other words, this ain't your mother's circus.

"The Felds (as in producers Kenneth and Nicole) wanted to take the show in a different direction," Shanda said.

She also mentioned that the Felds had talked to moms, who told them they wanted an emotional through line in the show.

"It felt fragmented, and moms said life is a three-ring circus as it is," Shanda continued. "Kids were also feeling overstimulated, and we wanted to keep them engaged."

So, it's at the Staples Center, right? You might wonder how anyone could fool an audience seated at 360 degrees.

"Can we even do magic in this setting?" Jim (pictured above with Shanda) said he asked himself at the beginning.

Hopefully, that answer is yes because what they have on tap includes a disappearing elephant; kids levitating their parents in the middle of the arena (not letting CC raise her hand for that one!); and a man "turning into" a tiger.

After our chat with Shanda and Jim, we headed to another cozy theater within the Castle to talk to 24-year-old "Zingmaster" Alex Ramon and his assistant/sister Leah Christiana.

The young magician, who's toured with Disney, explained that magic tricks start with an idea and a sketch, and that the entire year of 2008 was devoted to the show's creative process.

He then had 6 1/2 weeks to perfect his illusions before showtime. No pressure, kid. (And it's kind of refreshing, btw, to see a young, enthusiastic guy in the starring role of ring, er, zingmaster. Got kinda worried about those old guys and all the craziness going on around them. You know, what with all those loo-challenged elephants running around.)

The best questions for the duo came from two young boys, natch. One of the tykes was the son of LA Moms blogger Liz, who blogs over at Los Angelista. The first question was, "Are you guys better than Houdini?" (Awesome, but that's just my two cents.) To which Alex replied, "You'll have to come see our show and find out." And the final question: "How does all the magic work?"

*Gasp!* Oh no he di'int! (OK, I was laughing, too.)

"Can you keep a secret?" Alex asked. After the little guy nodded, Alex said, "So can I."

Oh, snap!

It was hilarious. Good times at the Magic Castle. And shout-outs to bloggers Sarah and Elise, in the top photo, who blog at Mar Vista Mom and Elise's Ramblings, respectively.)

Can't wait to go back to the Castle to try out one or all of their many, many, many bars. (Those magicians sure like their spirits!) Luckily, one of the members of the secret brotherhood gave us passes. And even luckier, kids are invited to Saturday and Sunday brunch.

But CC, now that you've got that cool circus hat to show off, don't get any ideas -- you know, like trying to make Mommy disappear over Eggs Benedict!

Zing Zang Zoom
Tickets $12-$90
For more information or to purchase tickets visit

********** UPDATE June 19 *******
Ringling Bros. has created a special price for readers. A four-pack of tickets will be only $44 when you enter the code "MOM" on or when you purchase tickets at arena box offices.

* The code must be entered in the "MC Promotion Box," and you must purchase at least four tickets for the price to be valid. Each additional ticket purchased is still priced at $11.
* Not valid on circus celebrity, front row or VIP seats, and facility fees still apply.


elise said...

Wow! Great coverage of the day. Fun hanging out with you!!

L.A. Story said...

Thanks so much, Elise! Had a great time meeting you in person!

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