The Theater Director (Norman Barrett) enters and stands before a plush red curtain. Solemnly, he announces that tonight his classical theater company will be presenting Shakespeare’s Lovers and Villains, a collection of representative scenes from the Bard’s most famous plays. The curtain parts, and we behold Juliet (Annette Devick as The Star) in the tomb, weeping over her dead husband’s body. She grabs his dagger and is about to kill herself when an errant bicycle wheel suddenly rolls across the stage. Then, like a jolly jack-in-the-box, The Circus Director (Stephen Ringold) pops up from inside the sarcophagus, tossing Romeo’s body to the floor. Colorfully costumed performers begin streaming in through the house and up to the stage, and now we know—the circus is in town.
But this isn’t any ordinary circus. Oh, no! This, my friends, is “Oops! The Big Apple Circus Stage Show,” a hilariously fun piece of entertainment that uses the premise of a theatrical company and a circus being wrongly booked into the same theater to repeatedly bump each other aside to get their respective shows on stage.
It’s a thin-air device, and one that drags a bit during some of the transitions and Shakespearean scenes, but it hardly matters. It is, after all, merely an excuse to present an astonishing array of must-be-seen-to-be-believed acts of speed, humor and physical prowess.
There’s Paul Ponce, whose fabulous speed-juggling blurs the mind as well as the eye. After a jaw-dropping display working with traditional juggling pins, he encores with a seemingly endless supply of spinning, soaring sombreros that simply defies description.
Justin Case and Michael Lane Trautman keep the audience in rousing good humor with their comic antics: Case with his outrageous bicycle/unicycle tricks (including riding a tiny 8-inch bicycle through a ring of fire) and the silent Trautman with his vaudevillian-like clown skills.
For the animal lovers, there’s a trained bunch of Budgies that spin, slide, climb and play on all sorts of bird-sized devices. There’s Don Otto, a pratfalling jokester who keeps a real bounce in his step between a diving board and a trampoline.
And there are assorted acrobatic troupes who demonstrate, in spectacular fashion, that there are more ways to connect to, hang from, balance atop and wrap around one another’s bodies than seems humanly possible.
The only thing that could have made “Oops! The Big Apple Circus Stage Show” more fun would have been a bag of peanuts and sawdust on the floor.