I've never been a big fan of the circus; though the soaring acrobatics and death-defying stunts were fun to watch, the clowns always seemed to be more freakish than funny, the music was a snore, and I kinda felt bad about the animals, seeing as elephants and tigers are meant for the jungle, not a 20 ft. ring in the middle of a boisterous crowd.
Boy, did the UniverSoul Circus change my mind about The Big Top. Over the course of more than two hours, my family and I experienced just about every emotion imaginable glee, excitement, fear, joy, pleasure, unbridled humor. Oh, the humor. Our sides were all aching by the time we staggered out from underneath the big top. What UniverSoul manages to do is present all the expected elements of your class circus think Ringling Bros. or Big Apple with an enormous amount of down home flava. Some might call it swagger, to borrow a phrase from Kanye. What an amazing assortment of talent assembled in one show! Freakish, unforgettable, death-defying talent. Like the two dudes who jumped rope 100 feet in the air on top of the two giant rings of death that swung around and around in a huge ferris wheel-like circle.
And the young kids from South Africa who contorted their bodies in so many unimaginable positions that those of us in the crowd were moaning in sympathy pain throughout their entire act.
And the troupe of Chinese foot jugglers who effortlessly tossed each other in the air.
And the troupe of Caribbean dancers, stilt walkers and limbo ladies from Trinidad and Tobago, who had the packed crowd doing jump up like it was in the middle of a wild Carnivale.
A few of the regular circus animals were there, too elephants that danced, horses that slung their Rough Riders all around the ring, and even a few tigers that magically appeared in cages during a comical magic set.
But it was the people who were the stars of this show: Ringmaster Maggie kept it hot between sets, entertaining the crowd with her pot-bellied, knee-stocking Single Ladies dance, church call-and-response songs, and the profession of her love for Soldier Boy.
And, as usual, when you get a crowd of black folks in the room, hilarity will always ensue, especially when soul train lines, kid dance offs, and lip synching to old school and new school songs are involved. Toss in a few tributes to President Barack Obama, an attitudinal clown, some of the hottest R&B and Hip Hop songs on the radio, and a bunch of side-splitting humor, and you've got an incredible evening of family entertainment that can't be beat.
Each of us thoroughly enjoyed the show and left wondering why we'd taken so long to go see the UniverSoul Circus. Totally gorged on funnel cake, cotton candy, hot dogs and popcorn, the girls collapsed in the back of the car and managed to stay awake long enough to A) beg to go back before the show left town, and B) ask one too many questions about how they could actually be in the circus the next time it came.
Sorry girls, the circus has left The A. But the next time UniverSoul Circus comes to town, we'll definitely be in the house again.
For more info on The UniverSoul Circus and its tour dates, click HERE. If you're a blogger in LA, NY, CHI, or Philadelphia and you'd like to review the show, leave a comment below with your contact info.