Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Circus at The Circus

CC gets up close and personal with a "Barnum's FUNundrum" clown.

It was definitely a circus at Staples Center last night, as Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey's "Barnum's FUNundrum" came to town, welcomed by parents, kids and a throng of animal protesters.

Celebrating the 200th anniversary of showman P.T. Barnum's birth, the show offered a major hat tip to circuses of yesteryear. Bearded lady? Check. Wild Man from Borneo? Check. Half-man Half-woman? He/She was all there last night. This was all in good fun, of course, with tongue planted firmly in cheek.

CC got to check out her fair share of performers, who like many of the acts, were also accompanied by large digital screens that provided both atmosphere and a tribute to the old-fashioned newspaper announcements featuring "death-defying acts" and "ferocious" animals.

In addition to aerialists who swung from ribbons and rings, joined by the digital screens that offered images including underwater scenes, there were also tight-rope walkers, trampoline artists whose costumes mimicked splattering splotches of paint, contortionists (3 women in one tiny box!) and of course the clowns.

CC even had a close encounter of the clown kind during the pre-show, which allowed circus-goers to walk on the floor of Staples Center to get a taste of what was to come.

And then, of course, there were the animals.

Now, I have mixed feelings about this. After watching documentary “One Lucky Elephant” at the LA Film Festival last month, I became more aware of how animals are treated and how, despite our best intentions, we have them living essentially unnatural lives. And that's not to say anything about mistreatment -- which should never be tolerated under any circumstances.

(Note to PETA: I'm all for your reps expressing themselves, but please leave the awful imagery somewhere where small children like my own can't see it.)

Sure, the animals' performances are entertaining in addition to being a long-standing tradition, but is this something that’s ultimately going out of style just like the aforementioned bearded lady?

Time will only tell.

CC was still awed, however, by the performing elephants, the gorgeous tigers (her favorite of the show) and the miniature horses that pranced in circles alongside llamas and a tiny dog.

There was also a “little” 2-ton surprise during the show that was an adorable addition.

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey presents

"Barnum's FUNundrum"

Staples Center, July 14-18

Note: Press tickets were provided.

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