Ringling Brothers continues legacy, stuns audience

More stories from Dorothy O'Connor


Photo/Dorothy O'Connor

Staff writer Dorothy O'Connor is all smiles as she enjoys one of the final performances of the Ringling Brothers Circus.


There’s something bittersweet about “the last.” The last song of a concert, the last scene of a play or musical, the last time a show is performed. There’s always a sense of loss, knowing that the experience is ending, and that it won’t be repeated. Yet that does not stop people from enjoying themselves, and losing themselves to the spectacle. Seeing the Ringling Brothers Circus in their last year was an experience tinged with this emotion, but it was an incredible experience nonetheless.

After 98 years, the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus is still the greatest show on Earth. Their traveling showcase “Out of This World” contains all the delights of the circus, which made Ringling Brothers famous, wrapped in a fun, galaxy-traipsing story.

The show begins with a “Spacewalk,” an incredible balancing act in which performers move seemingly effortlessly around a rotating frame, before the galactic circus sets off on its voyage to find the best acts in the universe in the musical number, “Blast Off!” What follows contains everything from the antics of alien clowns, to boisterous big cats and meteoric motorcyclists.

The performance by the Cossack Riders was an incredible mix of riding skill and gymnastic ability, with stunts such as a five-person pyramid atop two moving horses and one woman going beneath a horse’s belly before climbing back into the saddle. This circus performance also included ice-skaters performing astounding acrobatic feats. Some skaters launch off of trampolines and through hoops; others are propelled into the air by their fellow performers.

The animals acts were among the most memorable. Alexander Lacey’s lions and tigers do tricks that show off their inborn strength and fierce beauty. He returns later in the show with wife Katie Lacey to perform with a more varied menagerie. Llamas, goats, pigs, and kangaroos all show off their unique skills, though the canine acrobats stole the show for me.

The Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus tradition is coming to an end this year and is certainly closing with a bang. This spectacular show brings back a sense of childlike wonder—only fitting for the show which welcomes “children of all ages…”