Circus 1903 - The Golden Age of Circus (c) Mark Turner
by Jamie Siebrase
The producers of the world’s bestselling magic show, The Illusionists, have teamed up with award-winning puppeteers from War Horse, and their turn-of-the-last-century circus extravaganza is bringing big tent excitement to the Denver Center for Performing Arts’ Buell Theater February 21 to 26. There’s a lot to love about Circus 1903, but we’re partial to baby Peanut—one of the most adorable and intriguing “elephants” we’ve ever laid eyes on!
“It’s thrilling, it’s amazing, and there’s no room for error,” says ringmaster Willy Whipsnade. He isn’t kidding! Strongmen contortionists, death-defying high wire acts, and superstars throwing flaming daggers: There’s real danger onstage, and that’s part of what makes Circus 1903 so spectacular.
“I’ve seen kids with their jaws open for the entire show,” the ringmaster says. This is his first time running away with the circus—though the master of ceremonies, a seasoned magician, has plenty of fond childhood memories watching the circus from the stands, nestled between his mother and grandmother. Inspired by the old-time P.T. Barnum shows, Circus 1903 was created for a multigenerational audience, and captivates viewers of all ages by reclaiming the lost art of showmanship.
Circus 1903 is a love letter to tradition. The year 1903 was selected because it was the year the Ringling Bros. came back to the United States after touring overseas. This modern rendition transports audiences back to that golden and bygone era with a two-hour theatrical production that tells the nostalgic story behind the circus while simultaneously wowing viewers with daring acts.
It’s the elephants, though, that’ll really grab your attention. Cirque du Soleil made headlines two decades ago when it removed animals from its circus—but Circus 1903 is bringing back that entertainment aspect in a fresh, innovative, and humane way.
The elephants featured in Circus 1903 are puppets brought to life by a talented team of puppeteers. It takes three puppeteers on stilts to control the mother elephant! And all of the puppets—including baby Peanut—romp realistically alongside acrobats, trapeze artists, jugglers, sword throwers, and more in a must-see event.
Tickets start at $25, and can be purchased online at denvercenter.org or by calling 303-893-4100. Looking to save? Family 4-packs are available for $99 in price levels two and three with the promo code SAVE. And Tuesday, February 21 is family night: Buy one adult ticket, get a kids ticket free with the promo code KNOB. For more information, visit circus1903.com.