The Circus Comes Around

For the first time in 50 years, Feld Entertainment is making significant changes to the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus. The three rings have been replaced with a storyline.

The “blue” touring version of Ringling Bros. adopted the changes in January. The red and gold tours are expected to get their modifications next year.

“We do a lot of market research, and people today – well, their lives are three-ring circuses. People wanted more focused, interactive entertainment. They want something they can’t see anywhere else. So, the thought was, let’s re-imagine the circus,” Kenneth Feld said.

The circus performance now has a storyline, where an American family turns into a circus act, with the mom a trapeze artist, the dad a ringmaster, the teenage daughter a circus dancer and the son a foot-juggler.

Costume designer Colleen Atwood, whose outfits appear in the films “Chicago,” “Limony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events” and “Memoirs of a Geisha,” redid the performers’ duds into an amalgam of old and new. She took a vintage look and added some sex appeal and Converse tennis shoes.

“American Idol” contestant Jennifer Fuentes is ringmaster in the blue circus, wearing a strapless dress that mimics the colors and look of the old-fashioned circus tent. Horseback riders have a recurring theme in the show, appearing three times during the performances in different costumes and performing different routines.

Co-producer Nicole Feld, Kenneth’s daughter, is taking over the reins of the family business, making her the third generation in the Feld enterprise.

This is the first major change in Ringling Bros. since Irvin Feld moved the circus from traveling tents to indoor arenas.