×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

The Medicine Show

Founded in 1977, the Big Apple Circus is the anti-Barnum, an intimate, non-techno, one-ring circusmixing clownplay and homey routines (there's always a mutt act) with guest stars culled from the international circuit. Each year the nonprofit company attaches a theme to the presentation; this year, the conceit is a turn-of-the-century medicine show, complete with elixir huckster Doc Pitchum (Todd Robbins) and settings that suggest the hinterland ambience of a pitchman's paradise.

Founded in 1977, the Big Apple Circus is the anti-Barnum, an intimate, non-techno, one-ring circusmixing clownplay and homey routines (there’s always a mutt act) with guest stars culled from the international circuit. Each year the nonprofit company attaches a theme to the presentation; this year, the conceit is a turn-of-the-century medicine show, complete with elixir huckster Doc Pitchum (Todd Robbins) and settings that suggest the hinterland ambience of a pitchman’s paradise.

These constructs are usually the weakest link in the Big Apple Circus presentations, and “Medicine Show” is no well, it’s no tonic. The writing is pallid, and Robbins keeps things earthbound whenever Doc Pitchum gets in the way of the show. Moreover, some of the acts seem a tad tired.

That said, there’s still wonderful material in abundance here, and kids are certain to be transfixed. Clown par excellence Barry Lubin’s Grandma character has been augmented by Greg DeSanto’s big, goofy Lucky; Katja and Max Schumann’s horses are as sleek and nimble-footed as ever, and so are William Woodcock’s performing elephants.

Moreover, Anatoli and Liubov Sudarchikov add a touch of Old World amazement with their quick-change-and-magic act (at least to this unapologetic fan of “Andre Heller’s Wunderhaus”), and the comic-tinged aerial pyrotechnics of the high-flying Eskin Troupe are mesmerizing.

Popular on Variety

The Medicine Show

Production: A Big Apple Circus presentation in two acts conceived and directed by Paul Binder. Musical direction by Rik Albani, music by Linda Hudes, clowning direction by Michael Christensen.

Crew: Sets, Thomas Baker; costumes, David Belugou; lighting, Jan Kroeze; sound, Jim van Bergen. Artistic director, Binder; creative director, Christensen; executive director, Gary Dunning. Opened Oct. 24, 1996, at Damrosch Park, Lincoln Center. Reviewed Oct. 27; 1,722 seats; $ 49 top. Running time: 2 HOURS, 15 MIN.

With: With: Todd Robbins, Barry Lubin, Greg DeSanto, Big Apple Circus Company and guest artists.

More Film

  • Samara Weaving

    'G.I. Joe' Spinoff 'Snake Eyes' Adds 'Ready or Not's' Samara Weaving

    Samara Weaving will join Henry Golding in the “G.I. Joe” spinoff, “Snake Eyes.” Haruka Abe, Ursula Corbero, Iko Uwais and Andrew Koji have also boarded the Paramount, Skydance and AllSpark movie. “The Captain” director Robert Schwentke is helming and Brian Goldner is producing. Evan Spiliotopoulos, who wrote “Beauty and the Beast” and “The Huntsman: Winter’s [...]

  • The Irishman

    'The Irishman' to Screen at Hollywood's Egyptian Theatre

    Netflix’s “The Irishman,” directed by Martin Scorsese, will screen at American Cinematheque’s Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood  for two weeks starting Nov. 1. The screenings, announced Monday, are part of the limited theatrical run for the 209-minute crime drama, which premiered at the New York Film Festival on Sept. 27. Netflix will begin streaming “The Irishman” on [...]

  • Critics' Choice Documentary Awards Nominations 2019

    'Biggest Little Farm' Nabs Seven Critics' Choice Documentary Awards Nominations

    “The Biggest Little Farm” leads nominees for the fourth annual Critics’ Choice Documentary Awards, with seven bids, followed by “Apollo 11” and “They Shall Not Grow Old.” “One Child Nation” received five nominations. The winners will be presented their awards at a gala, hosted by Property Brothers’ Jonathan Scott, on Nov. 10 at BRIC in [...]

  • Margot Robbie, Nicole Kidman, Charlize Theron.

    Charlize Theron Could Win Second Oscar for Playing Megyn Kelly in 'Bombshell'

    Charlize Theron walked on stage before a screening of “Bombshell” at West Hollywood’s Pacific Design Center on Sunday night and announced to the crowd, “I’m about to s— myself.” The Oscar winner had good reason to be nervous. The screening of the Jay Roach-directed drama about the fall of Fox News boss Roger Ailes was [...]

  • Abominable Animated Movie

    Vietnam Pulls DreamWorks' 'Abominable' Over Contested Territorial Claims

    Vietnam has banned DreamWorks Animation’s new co-produced feature “Abominable” from its cinemas due to a scene involving a map that depicts China’s contested territorial claims in the South China Sea. The move comes as U.S. entertainment firms such as the NBA, Disney and gaming firm Activision Blizzard are under intense fire from U.S. fans, activists [...]

  • The Captain

    China Box Office: 'The Captain' Flies to $340 Million After Two Weeks of Release

    Patriotic thriller “The Captain” held on to the top spot at the Chinese box office for the second weekend, again leading from propaganda omnibus “My People, My Country.” “The Captain,” also known as “The Chinese Pilot” earned $34.9 million according to consultancy Artisan Gateway, for a two-week cumulative of $343 million. The cumulative for “People,” [...]

  • CGV movie theatre Seoul South KoreaCGV

    Korean Law to Limit Film Releasing Monopolies

    The Korean government is to make it illegal to show a single film on more than 50% of screens nationwide. The move is intended to prevent “screen monopolies by blockbuster films” and to “address unfair competition practices in the film industry.” The Ministry of Culture announced on Monday that it will revise the existing Promotion [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content