The theme of this year’s show is change and transformations and most of the acts begin somewhere and end up somewhere else. The entire show is overseen by Ringmaster John Kennedy Kane, dressed in his stylish red and black costume, and back for his third season. Aside from announcing the acts, Kane also does some magic tricks of his own turning one item into another.
Contortionist Odbayasakh Dorjoo fits herself into a transparent cube so small that you do not believe what you are seeing. Then she is joined in the small box by Tatevik Seyranyan and you are positive that the cube will explode and send them tumbling, but you would be wrong. They both manage to fold themselves up into tiny parcels.
Animal trainer Jenny Vidbel brings out her unusual menagerie of animals, two by two, just like on Noah’s ark: horses, camels, llamas, goats, ponies and a canine. A dog jumps rope and through hoops, while the horses take the smaller animals for rides on their backs. After a series of remarkable tricks by them, she introduces us to talented rabbits, ferrets and porcupines who come out of a hat.
This is followed by the Anastasini Brothers (Fabio and Giuliano) with their sensational Risley act. Risley is defined as an acrobalance act in which one performer lying on his back supports another who performs acrobatics propelled only by the feet of the other, a sort of balancing act on high. Could that have been 24 somersaults that climaxed the performance or was the event quicker than the eye?
The first act ends with the thrilling aerial act of Giovanni Anastasini and Irene Espana. High up, at the opposite side from a circulating space ship, the couple performs acrobatic acts while being swept along in orbit with the unmanned machine. In between the acrobatics and gymnastics acts, Francesco the Clown performs various tricks with members chosen from the audience for the amusement of the assembled crowd.
The second half brings back some performers and introduces new ones. Ms. Vidbel returns with her well trained, synchronized menagerie and before you know it she has turned them into a Living Carousel. Then at her signal each pair disappears two by two.
Ms. Seyranyan who earlier had joined Ms. Dorjoo in the glass box returns with a Rolla Bolla act. In this, she performs juggling tricks while balanced on a board which is placed increasingly higher on rolling cylinders. Each time her perch is made higher, your heart stops as you are certain that this time she will not succeed, but, of course, she does.
The Smirnov Duo, Olga dressed in red, Vladimir dressed in black, appear and she proceeds to do quick changes that defy the eyes. Each time she reappears from an enclosed black silk hoop held by Vladimir for only an instant, she is dressed in a different color and outfit. For their finale, the two end up in evening clothes. Now that is unexplained magic.
The four Anastasinis, father, mother and sons, return with a remarkable act with diabolo juggling. This is a juggling prop with an axle and two cups which are spun using a string attached to two hand sticks. The four performers work separately and together, throwing their diabolos higher and higher, always catching them on the way down in synchronized formation. To make things more interesting, they begin trading their props with one another.
The final act is the one that appears to be most difficult. The Aniskin Troupe, consisting of five men and one woman, perform flying trapeze sequences, singly and then in combinations. Dressed in unique multi-colored zebra-striped costumes, they look like nothing so much as a breed of strange plants flying through the air.
Each act is short enough to leave you wanting more, none overstay their welcome. Big Apple Circus’s Metamorphosis, their 37th edition, is a spectacle for eye and ear. The artistry is superb and the feats will amaze you. The show which is basically nonverbal is appropriate for all ages and theatergoers.
Big Apple Circus: Metamorphosis (May 17 – June 14, 2015)
The Big Apple Circus Big Top
Cunningham Park, in Queens
For tickets, call 800-922-3772 or visit http://www.bigapplecircus.org
Running time: two hours including one intermission