If you’ve ever contemplated running away to join the circus, I got to do exactly that. Ok, so perhaps my time with Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey was temporary but my recent trip to the Feld Entertainment Studios in Palmetto, Florida provided a behind the scenes look at Out of This World, the newest Greatest Show on Earth that is unlike any circus you’ve seen before. Over the past 145 years, Ringling Bros. shows have evolved from a three ring circus to provide viewers with the best of live entertainment and Out of This World doesn’t disappoint.
During my time with Ringling Bros., I was treated to a sneak peek of the opening act of Out of This World, a multi-sensory intergalactic adventure featuring favorite acts in a classic story of good versus evil performed on ice. Yes, ice! The addition of ice brings a new element to the circus as performers transition seamlessly from floor to air to ice. Projection technology transforms the venue for a dazzling outer space that will truly delight parents and kids of all ages.
Besides being awed by a new generation of circus, I got to spend time with the gravity-defying acrobats, orbital aerialists, majestic animals, fearless daredevils, humorous clowns, and other individuals who are part of Out of This World. My time with this intimidatingly talented but friendly bunch taught me many things about Ringling Bros., family, and why it’s not so easy to just run away and join the circus.
4 Things I Learned About Families from Ringling Bros. Out of This World
1. You Can Run Away to Join the Circus but it’s Better to Have Parents with Connections
While Ringling Bros. conducts a worldwide search for talent, many performers come from families with a long history with the circus. Out of This World features Ringmaster Johnathan Lee Iverson and his son, and now co-star, Matthew. Head Clown, Davis, is from a multigenerational family of clowns. Having grown up with the circus, it was natural for Davis to step out into the ring, holding the hand of one of his parents. His learning was constant and immersive as he spent time backstage surrounded by talented individuals who taught him everything he needed to know and gave him the confidence to perform.
2. Animals are Family
If you’ve ever been to a Ringling Bros. show and marveled at the man in the cage with the lions and the tigers, that man is Alexander Lacey, Big Cat Trainer. Just as Head Clown, Davis, and Jonathan the Ringmaster parents’ careers influenced those of their children, Alexander was greatly influenced by his parents who were also animal trainers. Growing up around big cats has given Alexander a love and appreciation of the animals who he considers family.
One of my favorite parts of my visit to Ringling Bros. was standing just outside the cage where Alex was grooming his lions. Standing face to face, Alex held a brush in one hand while petting the lion with the other. With half closed eyes and a nose that tilted upward, the look between lion and trainer could only be described as pure adoration.
After the lion grooming, Alex let the tigers out and stepped outside the cage to talk to us. He stood just to the left of an opening where a metal ladder served as an opening for us to get a clear shot into the cage for photos. It was also big enough for the tigers to stretch their paws and stick their heads partway through in order to try to get Alex’s attention.
Much like small children desperate for a parent’s attention, the tigers were no different as they jostled for position to be near Alex, reaching their massive orange, black, and white paws through as if to say, “Hey, pay attention to me!”
3. New Out of This World App Connects Families with Experiences
At a time when many parents are encouraging kids to put down their phones to be present, Ringling Bros. is encouraging attendees to embrace the use of their phones thanks to the new Out of This World app. The app is designed to keep audiences connected to the performance from the minute the arrive at the venue. Audiences can get updates on on chances to interact with circus performers beginning at the All Access Pre-Show, snap a selfie that will be broadcast live during the show or shared on social media, interact with performers through the app, and play games while they wait for the show to begin.
4. Feld Entertaiment and Ringling Bros. is a Family Affair
Acquired by her grandfather 1967, Alana Feld now produces Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey® as the show’s Executive Vice President and Producer. Her family has a long history in the live entertainment field beginning with her grandfather, Irvin Feld. Irvin was a Washington, D.C. pharmacy owner who set up speakers to entice customers into buying records and renamed his store Super Music City, a decision that led to his career in rock and roll promotion. In 1970, Kenneth Feld joined his father, Irvin, to learn the craft of circus production from his father that led to his daughters, Nicole, Alana, and Juliette becoming the third generation behind Feld Entertainment’s brands.
As a young girl, Alana grew up around the circus like many of the performers she works with. Early birthday parties included live animals from the circus and trips for friends to see Ringling Bros. performances Now Executive Vice President and Producer for Feld Entertainment, Alana is integral in the day-to-day management of the company and produces Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey®. Today Feld Entertainment’s productions have appeared in more than 75 countries on six continents and include Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey®, Monster Jam®, Monster Energy Supercross, Nuclear Cowboyz®, AMSOIL Arenacross, Marvel Universe LIVE!, Disney On Ice and Disney Live!
Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Out of This World kicks off its nationwide tour Los Angeles on July 14. Learn when Ringling Bros. is coming to your city by visiting their schedule.
I was hosted by Feld Entertaiment for a Ringling Bros. press trip. All opinions are my own and based on personal experience. No compensation was received for this post.