By Judy Antell

One-Ring Madness

  |  Theater & Performances  

   Summer may be over, but you can still visit the boardwalk: the Big Apple Circus has a new show, Step Right Up!, that recreates an “Amusement Resort by the Sea”.  Now in its 29th season, at its annual engagement at Lincoln Center, the Big Apple Circus has performers you might recognize from previous productions, along with new additions, but every act is as fresh as an ocean breeze. And the ragtime music can make you feel like you’re at Coney Island, circa 1920.

   Grandma the Clown, of course, is a constant presence, in his red dress and curly gray fright wig.  If you come early to the  ‘pre-show’, where the performers mingle freely with the audience, you discover that Grandma has a deep voice that belies her somewhat timid demeanor.  Another clown, Joel, serves as the midway barker, familiar to anyone who has visited an old-fashioned amusement park over the summer.  He serves as a juggling, clowning host.

   The horse act, “A Magical Carousel”, is based on the conceit that the horses have escaped from a merry-go-round.  And the dog act, “Hot Dogs, Anyone?”, brings to mind a boardwalk snack.   The Chihuahuas climb ladders, walk tightropes and knock over their trainer, which kids find hilarious.

   The acrobats from China and aerialists from Russia are two of the more thrilling acts; the acrobats jump back and forth from swinging poles.  The trapeze is also a crowd pleaser.  Kids who have recently mastered a tricycle or bicycle will love Wheely Fun, with a bike falls that apart and becomes a unicycle.  The performer reassembles the bike incorrectly (something any parent can relate to), and rides through a ring of fire on a tiny tricycle (definitely one of those don’t-try-this-at-home tricks).

   The show is 2 hours and 20 minutes, about 20 minutes too long for many young attention spans, but the generally fast pace keeps kids engaged.  If you are seated up front, you may be lucky – or unlucky – enough to be brought on stage.  Kids who are asked to participate have a great time, but adults may wind up with a face full of water.

Where: Damrosch Park, Lincoln Center, 62nd Street between Columbus and Amsterdam Avenues
When:  Various times daily, through January 7, 2007
How much:  $22-78.  Children under 3 are free when they sit on the lap of a paid adult. One child per lap.
For tickets: Centercharge, (212) 721-6500;; or Ticketmaster, (212) 307-4100 or
For more info:


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