Ranked among Ticketmaster's Top 25 Most Requested Family Events for five consecutive years, UniverSoul Circus grants an interactive spectacle of acrobatic stunts, dance, and comedy set to popular urban sounds. With its swirling lights and pulsing beats, the circus's resemblance to a blowout concert tour is no accident: production designer Tom Marzullo has created internationally touring stage shows for Justin Bieber, Jay-Z, and Prince.
As hosts, a troupe of improv comics slip laughs in between the gasps and draw the crowd even closer into the action. Meanwhile, the production makes jaws drop farther with trained elephants, illusions featuring a live tiger, a head-balancing act from Vietnam, and female contortionists from Ethiopia. These make up just a few of the globally sourced performers, others of whom hail from locales as diverse as Colombia, South Africa, Russia, and Trinidad and Tobago.
Snakes slither in glass display cases, and lizards wriggle in the hands of trained handlers as they're held up in full view of a curious crowd. This is the scene as one of Repticon's presenters educates attendees on the biology, behavior, and typing speeds of exotic cold-blooded creatures at one of the year-round shows held in cities across the country. Reptile and amphibian breeders, scholars, and handlers engage audiences in lectures and demonstrations in the midst of live reptile exhibits, family activities, and displays for exotic-pet supplies. Presentations may focus on the genetics of large snake species, the specifics of exotic-pet care, and the effect that tiny hats have on the image of arachnids such as tarantulas, scorpions, and spiders.
The seasoned performers of Piccadilly Circus dazzle audiences of all ages with 90 minutes of acrobatics, comedic high jinks, and trained animals beneath the big top. Audiences gasp at high-flying trapeze artists swooping through the air with the confidence of a kite in a wind tunnel, as well as contortionists able to bend themselves into human bonsai trees. Death-defying motorcyclists roar into a caged globe to perform a 360-degree display of vehicular mastery. Gaggles of clowns coax out chuckles, and a trained elephant parades around the ring, occasionally stopping to memorize an audience member's phone number. General-admission seating surrounds the ring, allowing ample viewpoints from which to observe the boisterous spectacle.
At Cirque Italia, aerialists and acrobats look down to see a very unusual set: a 35,000-gallon water tank. As the high-energy acts swing from ropes and flip over trapezes, curtains of rain and fountain jets crisscross in time to each move. Among them, the Verticali act, in which seasoned performer Gimmi Fornaciari sings classical Italian songs while suspended upside down high above the ground.
On the ground, Fornaciari returns as Laser Man, deftly defying the laws of physics by holding, splitting, and even wielding beams of green laser energy. In a nod to the aquatic setting, Morgaine Rosenthal does a mermaid act, rising from her shell before ascending into the air for a grace corde lisse performance. And between acts, Coco the Clown?who once set a Guinness World Record for riding a 5-inch bicycle?keeps the crowd's spirits high as the human pyramid. Other captivating sights include the humorous antics of the Twin Sailor's Duo Lira act, human-sized bubbles, and Montalvo's trio, who balance and pose atop the reed-like structure of their precarious Chinese pole.
In addition to acting as a love letter to the traditions of the Italian circus, the latest Cirque Italia show is also a tribute to the ingenuity of founder Manuel Rebecchi. As the nephew of Moira Orfei, the world-renowned queen of the Italian circus, Rebecchi combined his family's pedigree with his own groundbreaking ideas to form a company that leaves crowds breathless and competitors hurrying to catch up.
The acrobatic Zoppe-Zamperla family steers the reins of Cavallo Equestrian Arts, LLC, drawing on 166 years of showmanship to delight audiences as it tours the globe, standing, flipping, and hanging upside-down on galloping horses. Transporting spectators back to the age of knights, mystics, and spaceships made of wood, Cavallo Equestrian Arts' performers combine these death-defying feats with jousts amid music, dancing, and acrobatics, as well as spectacles such as fire-breathing. The Zoppe-Zamperla brothers have assembled their talents and passions into wondrous shows, earning them featured performances in movies such as The First of May and The Fisher King and opportunities to amaze in events such as Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey's circus.