A Parent’s Review: BARNUM BASH
If you’ve ever thought about running away and joining the circus, here’s your chance! Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey have taken the “Greatest Show on Earth” to a new level with BARNUM BASH, which is currently touring in Western Washington.
BARNUM BASH is kind of a hip take on the classic circus. Gone are the big top and the sawdust floors, replaced with slick venues like the Tacoma Dome, Everett’s Comcast Arena and Kent’s ShoWare Center. My husband, my son and I waited in a long and winding line outside of the Tacoma Dome among a surprisingly diverse group of thrill-seekers; we were sandwiched between a childless couple in their fifties and a teenage couple who looked as if they were on a first date. BARNUM BASH is touted as a show for children of all ages, but there is definitely still a strong emphasis on keeping young viewers happy and entertained at every moment.
Once we stepped into the Tacoma Dome, we were wowed by all of the activity of the pre-show party (hence the name Barnum Bash), a free-for-ticket-holders, hour-long interactive teaser that includes limbo, group dance lessons from a clown and, most impressively, an elephant, up-close and personal, eating a loaf of Wonder Bread in one bite.
“He’s so close I can smell him!” my 5-year-old son remarked gleefully.
The place was teeming with vendors offering Cracker Jacks, cotton candy and pricey keepsake gadgets that light up and spin when a button is pushed. In fact, there are all sorts of ways to spend your money before and during the show, shaved ice in mugs shaped like clown’s heads, even a chance to get your photo snapped with a fake gorilla.
I would recommend not coming hungry. Not only were the prices prohibitive (a bottle of water, for example, is $3.50), but the lines to get food were long and slow. Packing healthy snacks to eat while in line is a good idea. It will keep you busy while you wait and you won’t have to survive on nachos and popcorn like we did. Be sure to finish all you bring in line though, as you won’t be allowed to carry in outside food or drink.
The show opened in classic circus style with a pair of camels and trained horses, followed by a beautiful trapeze act reminiscent of Cirque de’ Soleil. Amidst the use of current music and acts previously unseen in a circus atmosphere (such as the basketball demonstration on unicycles!), the show would frequently hail back to its historic roots. One act in particular made us laugh – the Ringlettes – a trio of performers from Rio de Janeiro who ask, in an old-timey song and dance number, “What would P.T. Barnum do?”
Despite the constant array of sight and sound, at times it felt like the clowning around (literally) in between the acts went on too long for younger viewers to stay focused.
Christine Harris of Federal Way brought her 5-year-old grandson to the show. “Halfway through the first hour he told me he was tired, and we almost didn’t make it through the intermission.” However, she continued on to say, he perked up when they rolled out the famous Urias Family steel globe and filled it with buzzing motorcyclists and a spinning aerialist. The Urias Family has been a favorite of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey for 80 years, and the current members are the fourth generation to perform this high speed act for the show. It’s a true piece of history on stage.
BARNUM BASH was a refreshing mix of an old-school circus and modern day marvels. I enjoyed the nods to the circus of days gone by: the live band, the trick dogs, the trapeze artists and the camels and elephants. Meanwhile, my son appreciated the more spectacular sights, like the Flying Cruzados and their 46-foot double “wheel of steel.”
The show itself is two hours long, with a 15-minute intermission. The company did a crafty job of peppering intricate acts that would appeal more to older viewers, such as the absolutely amazing Duo Fusion hand balancing act, with acts that had more of a spectacle aspect to them, keeping everyone entertained throughout.
Be sure to check out the BARNUM BASH website for information on performances that offer discounts for kids and for military families. While the price of admission feels a bit high, you are getting more than just an evening’s performance. From the look on my son’s face, I knew this was an experience he would never forget.
If You Go...
Where and When:
Comcast Arena at Everett:Thursday, Aug. 23, 7:30 p.m.; Friday, Aug. 24, 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, Aug. 25, 11:30 a.m., 3:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.; Sunday, Aug. 26, 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. ShoWare Center in Kent: Friday, Aug. 31, 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, Sept. 1, 11:30 a.m., 3:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.; Sunday, Sept. 2, 1 and 5 p.m.; Monday, Sept. 3, noon and 4 p.m.
All military personnel and their families will receive a $10 ticket price to the following shows in Everett and Kent: Saturdays at 11:30 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. or Sundays at 5 p.m. (which are military appreciation night shows with a special salute to our Armed Forces).
The code to redeem this special ticket price is MIL10 and is available
online, by phone and at the Box Offices. Tickets must be picked up at the
Box Office with Military ID.
General Admission and Kids’ Discount: Ticket prices range from $20 - $80. Kids' tickets are also available for select performances for $10 each (with special discount code SIMON from Simon Malls - Northgate & Tacoma Malls). For more information on select shows offering discounts for kids’ tickets, visit http://ringlingtickets.com/schedule.php). Opening Night tickets are half-priced for only $10 (not valid for VIP, Front Row or Gold Circle seating).