Big Apple Circus: True family entertainment, with gales of laughter and the 'wow' factor

16 - Spicy Circus Trampoline Act in BIG APPLE CIRCUS (c) Juliana Crawford
The Big Apple Circus, through Jan. 27 at the Damrosch Park in Lincoln Center.

A genuine family entertainment, the Big Apple Circus has just opened under the big blue tent outside Lincoln Center.  The show is fun and colorful and fast-paced. As Goldilocks would have it, not too big, not too small, not too long, not too short: It’s just right. There are perfect sight lines from every row, comfortable seats, and, most important, no animal cruelty to worry about and no scary, creepy clowns. The show runs two hours, with a 20-minute cotton candy/popcorn break. (Note: there is a bar with goofy-sounding cocktails, with red-licorice stirrers.)

Unlike Cirque du Soleil, with its mystical and pretentious themes,The Big Apple  is an old-fashioned circus under the direction of high-booted, top-hatted ringmaster Stephanie Monsour.  Paying tribute to the history  of circuses, which started with a literal dog-and-pony show, are some beautiful unharnessed horses and some high-leaping dogs (all the dogs and horses and even an adorable if untalented pig are, I’m told, rescued animals).  

Any circus needs awe-inspiring acts (as in, “How do they do that??”). Here there are immense riggings for the wildly bouncing trampoline crew making daredevil feats look like child’s play, grinning all the while. More intense is the trapeze team of seven fliers and two catchers named The Flying Tunizians. They are sensational, ending with a quadruple somersault that will make you hold your breath.

There are two couples acts. One is an iron-woman who can (in high heels!) hold the weight of her husband while balancing on one arm (it’s more amazing than that description), and the other is a pair of romantically sexy aerialists of great grace and strength performing gasp-inducing mid-air drops.

There is lots of unbelievably gravity-defying juggling as well as a pair of jolly clowns, Mark Gindick and Adam Kuchler, who sent my grandchildren into gales of giggles — the equivalent of a rave review.

Big Apple Circus at the Damrosch Park at Lincoln Center. Through Jan. 27, 2019. Tickets and information: