Sunday, March 06, 2011

..Ringling's " Fully Charged"..

Where William Tell Is an Amateur

NEWARK — You can buy all sorts of stuff from the concessionaires at the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus, but the things you may want the most after seeing this year’s show aren’t for sale.

At the top of the list is a giant bicycle with huge tires that look like chocolate doughnuts; a group of clowns have a great time with it, and it seems as if you could too. A close second are the springy gizmos the show’s dancer-gymnasts strap on their legs that enable them to leap abnormal heights and distances. Combined with glow-in-the-dark costumes, they create a cool effect that would make you the life of any neighborhood party.

Alas, you’ll go home with much less impressive trinkets, and possibly a headache, from this loud and pizazzy show, titled “Fully Charged.” But any youngsters you have brought with you will be, well, fully charged by the end, especially after taking in the show’s blazing high point: a human cannonball (actually shot from a giant crossbow) named Brian Miser who is propelled across the arena while on fire. There’s something you won’t see every day, unless something goes terribly wrong at your annual crossbow-and-barbecue party.

New Yorkers will have to trek to New Jersey or Long Island to get their circus itch scratched this year; construction has kept the Ringling troupe from its usual residency at Madison Square Garden. The substitute is an extended run at the Izod Center in the Meadowlands (after a stop last weekend at the Prudential Center in Newark), followed by five days at the Nassau Coliseum.

Brian Crawford Scott steps in as the new ringmaster and certainly has the necessary bombast, though a somewhat generic singing voice. The kids won’t care about that, of course; they’ll be more interested in Tabayara Maluenda’s elephants, horses, zebras and tigers. Lost in the noise and the arena setting is some pretty amusing clowning. That circus art, at least, is made for a small tent, but given the economies of scale, is rarely seen in one these days.

“Fully Charged” runs through March 13 at the Izod Center in East Rutherford, N.J., and from March 16 through 20 at Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, N.Y.; (800) 745-3000,

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