SALT LAKE CITY — Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey's West Coast debut show may be an intergalactic adventure intended to be loads of fun for the audience, but the clowns say they still have more fun than anyone.
"This is my first circus," said Mandy Curry, the only female of six clowns in clown alley in the new show. "I'm having so much fun. I could go on forever!"
Curry — who is the shortest (she's 5 feet tall) and the oldest (she's 33) and the only one with four eyes (she is an alien in the show) — said because it's a brand new show with a storyline and an arena of ice, it's going to be exciting to see how audiences react.
She expects the audience to be amazed at the show.
"The storyline connects it all together, and the clowns are the connecting point," she said.
Asa Walker, who is 24 and from rural Kansas, said it's the clowns' jobs to win over the audience, especially the children.
"It is a highly practiced sport," he said. "You can only be nervous for one second before you come through the curtain. If you look like you're supposed to be there, the kids will buy it. If you don't, they'll pick up on it."
Walker said the clown's job is physically and emotionally demanding, especially on days with three shows.
"I call it theater mixed with athletics, full contact theater," he said.
Walker never intended to be a clown. In fact, as a child he was terrified of clowns. Now, he calls it the perfect career: He gets to play, have fun and get paid to do so.
Curry said she never imagined she could be a clown, so she was beyond thrilled to be called to be part of the show after her audition.
"It's challenging but fun," she said. "You have to be on 24/7. You can't ever just coast along. I wake up in the morning and say, how many laughs can I get today? What can I do to be more funny?"
Curry and Walker are part of the first show in the circus' 145-year history that doesn't include elephants as the pachyderms have been retired to a reserve in Florida, according to a news release. Feld Entertainment, the company that produces the circus, announced in January 2016 that all the Asian elephants were to be moved in May 2016.
The elephants’ move to the Ringling Bros. Center for Elephant Conservation allows the company to focus on elephant conservation and their pediatric cancer research partnership with Dr. Joshua Schiffman of Primary Children's Hospital and the Huntsman Cancer Institute, according to the Ringling Brothers' website at ringlingelephantcenter.com.
In the space-age family adventure "Out of This World," audience members will help take the helm of a circus space fleet to try to defeat evil, according to a news release.
On the space journey, ringmaster Johnathan Lee Iverson and "Circus Starseeker" Paulo battle evil and join with the Intergalactic Circus Queen Tatiana and her henchman to bring stolen circus performers back to Earth.
During the trip, the audience will explore new worlds and planets of ice, fire, sand and water inhabited by gravity-defying astronauts, Chinese aerialists, motorcycle and unicycle daredevils and expert stunt-performing ice skaters as well as tigers and lions. According to a news release, the lead clown, Davis Vassalo, will climb a 47-foot sway pole to complete a handstand five stories above the audience.
Ticket holders who come early can get a sneak peek at performances and participate in pre-show events that includes meeting the clowns.
If you go
What: The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus "Out of This World"
Where: Vivint Arena, 301 W. South Temple, Salt Lake City
When: Sept. 23, 7 p.m.; Sept. 24, 11 a.m., 3 p.m. and 7 p.m.; Sept. 25, 1 and 5 p.m.; Sept. 26, 7 p.m.
Sharon Haddock is a professional writer with more than 35 years' experience, 17 at the Deseret News. Her personal blog is at sharonhaddock.blogspot.com.