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The Circus Is Coming Back to Town

May 20, 2022, 1:04 PM · Feld Entertainment has announced plans to revive the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus, "The Greatest Show On Earth," after closing the iconic production more than five years ago.

The circus will not feature animal acts when it returns next year, as Feld looks to recast the show for modern audiences.

"As passionate stewards of Ringling, we are committed to creating a lifestyle brand that connects with families and sparks real fun 365 days a year through live performances, digital content, consumer products, school curricula, youth circus arts programs and more," Feld Entertainment Chair and Chief Executive Officer Kenneth Feld said. "We are innovating all aspects of the live show and modernizing the franchise to create an engaging property that is built for today’s families and will last another 150 years."

Feld, which also produces Disney on Ice and other IP-driven touring stadium shows, is running an international search for new acts for the reimagined circus, which also will include interactive elements and "new technologies and a 360-degree experience will break down the barriers between the performers and attendees," according to Feld's press release.

The circus is the direct ancestor to today's themed entertainment industry, including theme parks. As I wrote when Feld announced Ringling's closure, in The circus is dead. Long live its successors:

"Circuses starting entertaining fans not just in the days before the Internet, or television, but before anyone could listen to the radio or go to the movies. With their 'big top' tents, pulled up by elephants and hauled around the country by rail, circuses could set up and wow people in far-flung towns that weren't a part of the vaudeville circuit.

"If you lived in one of these towns, the day the circus showed up was a big deal. Imagine getting the Internet, TV, movies, online gaming, and radio for just one weekend a year, and having to do without any digital entertainment the rest of the times. That weekend would be like what the circus coming to town was more than 100 years ago."

But in the face of all that modern entertainment competition, Ringling Bros. ultimately failed when there wasn't enough collective nostalgia left for what had become a nostalgia act. However, Cirque du Soleil created a successful model for a reimagined circus, so now we will see what Feld can do to create its own model for what a modern circus show can be.

Tickets for the new "The Greatest Show On Earth" will go on sale in April 2023, with the show going into rehearsals in June next year and a U.S. tours starting September 2023.

Replies (5)

May 20, 2022 at 1:21 PM

Interesting as was always odd timing Barnum & Bailey closed down just before pandemic but not sure how it works as a circus without animal acts doesn't sound right.

May 20, 2022 at 2:10 PM

So it will be like Cirque with a circus theme.

May 20, 2022 at 2:39 PM

Cirque du Ringling: Le Plus Grand Spectacle sur Terre

May 22, 2022 at 3:35 PM

I do remember the Barnum & co circus when i Was very young. The 3 rings with simultaneus acts in each one was certainly impresive in scope and presence. I only vaguely remember Circus World ( i only went once or twice). Circus O solei has proved that a circus evolution is possible. So the Best in luck for Feld. Its a tough arena to compete rigth now.

May 23, 2022 at 2:42 PM

I have to thank Ringling brothers for helping get into animal rights at a young age. Even as a kid I knew those animals were suffering, so happy that's a thing of the past.

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