Saturday, July 4, 2009

This Ain't Your Daddy's Circus: Ringling Brother's Zing Zang Zoom!

ringling-bros-zing-zang-zoom-staples-center-michael-jackson-memorialFor the past couple of months my 10-year-old has been obsessed with magic, diligently teaching herself tricks she's learned from YouTube videos and books. I don't know how many times I've heard, "Pick a card, any card," and "Wanna see this (fill in the blank) disappear?" in the past few weeks. After my husband taught her the "Pull my finger" trick, he told her about The Magic Castle in Hollywood - an exclusive venue for professional magicians that is usually invitation-only - and she was mesmerized but disappointed that she'd have to wait until she was an adult to try and score an invite, since kids aren't usually allowed. YouTube would have to do for now.

So imagine the squealing that took place when I got an invite to a special preview of the new Ringling Bros. Barnum and Bailey Circus being held at - you guessed it - The Magic Castle. It took some talking to convince her that she would be merely watching and not performing, though.

Titled Zing, Zang Zoom, this new version of The Greatest Show on Earth has a new twist - a theme of magic and illusion, and features world class illusionist Alex Ramon as the Zingmaster (the term 'Ringmaster' is so five minutes ago) and his sister, the beautiful and talented (ex-Oakland Raiders cheerleader) Leah Christiana. These two have a hipness and youthfulness that seems to have been missing from the traditional circus, and I think they'll go a long way in attracting a younger crowd. Throw out your image of the circus as a show filled with tired-looking elephants being paraded around by an old, even tireder-looking clown. I haven't been to a traditional circus since I was a kid, and this is the first one my kids have shown an interest in going to. My 13-year-old even thought the Zingmaster was 'really cute.' Sure, disturbing for my husband and I to hear, but if it'll get her to the circus and away from Gossip Girl reruns for a few hours, so be it.

To give you an idea of the sophistication of the show, the illusions were created by Jim Steinmeyer, who has worked as a consultant for Orson Welles and Harry Blackstone and was responsible for helping David Copperfield make the Statue of Liberty disappear. And Alex is an accomplished magician in his own right, having performed since the age of 13 and even co-authoring a book on card tricks, which of course my 10-year-old had to rush out and buy the very next day. (We're hoping to get it autographed by Alex at the all-access Pre-Show that takes place before every performance.) I always wondered what kind of kid would want to run away and join the circus - who knew it would be my own?

Here are a couple of videos, one where Alex appears to saw his sister in half (and what brother hasn't dreamed about doing that?) and another where he pulls cards out of thin air. Call me a sucker, but I swear I have no idea how he does this.

If you're in Los Angeles, Ringling Brothers' Zing Zang Zoom will be at the Staples Center July 8-12. (Don't show up a day early, on the 7th - that's the day Michael Jackson's memorial will be taking place at the same venue.)

Check out Ringling Brothers Zing Zang Zoom here.
Find a show near you here.

Hey, if you're interested in seeing Zing Zang Zoom for yourself, here's a special discount offer: Get a specially-priced four-pack of tickets for $44 by entering the codeword 'MOM' in the Ticketmaster coupon code. This is an actual offer, not an illusion.

Code is the word “mom”. Code needs to be entered in the “MC Promotion Box” on Ticketmaster. Must purchase AT LEAST 4 tickets for code to be valid. Each additional ticket after 4 is still priced at $11. Not valid on Circus Celebrity/Front Row/VIP seats and facility fees do apply.

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