Catch a dream

San Diego Union-Tribune - August 03, 2006

You don't have to be a child to appreciate the explosion of colors, glitter and fantastic feats that make up the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus. The circus — opening in San Diego Wednesday at the ipayOne Center at the Sports Arena — hopes to inspire everyone to dream, the theme of this year's show.

Nicole Feld, the 28-year-old co-producer of the Ringling Bros. show owned by Feld Entertainment, said it was time the show was re-imagined.

“We talked to the audience, and from their feedback we realized we needed a format change. We wanted to target everyone, and we realized that the audience was telling us they wanted a more focused experience. We think the new format will let them focus on certain aspects of the show and make it more enjoyable for them.”

The heart of the new format includes a story line following a family as each member follows a dream of performing in the circus.

The show has taken some modern steps with a 24-foot diameter LED video screen and a booming sound system that allow audiences to get closer to the action. Jennifer Fuentes — former “American Idol” finalist — plays a ringmaster and circus songstress.

Of course there will be clowns, magic, trapeze artists and animals. You'll see the endangered Asian elephants the circus is known for, but while there will be no big cats, dogs and domestic cats will perform.

Although a popular attraction, the use of Asian elephants in the Ringling Bros. shows has been a source of conflict for years. One issue is whether the animals face stress traveling 50 weeks a year. Such organizations as the Humane Society of the United States, ASPCA and PAWS have come out against the use of any animals in circuses and have sued Feld Entertainment over their care.

Ringling Bros. offers an up-close look at the animals before the show. Arrive 90 minutes early to see them in the parking lot. “People can see for themselves how healthy our animals are and how much they love to perform,” Feld said. “You can see how much we love our animals.”

Ringling Bros. invites your imagination to join the circus