Reprinted from yesterday's late editions
No, the circus never is "the same old circus," which is what hooks us zealots. The similarities are obvious: People doing impossible things in gloriously impossible garments, rolling with beasts in their cages, tempting the fates aloft. But, ah, my friends, and, oh, my foes, the differences!
In other words, the 107th edition of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey arrived Tuesday night for a two-week, one-day satnd in the Capital Centre, where they do these crazy tricks twice daily except Saturdays and Sundays, when it's three times. How do they stand it.?
This is the red, or Gunther Gebel-Williams edition. Last year's was the blue, or Elvin Bales edition. Gebel-Williams works with the beasts. Bales up top on wires. For the first time in several years, the red edition is the only one Washington will have till next spring.
The RB-B&B tradition of three rings has, I suppose, advantages as well as disadvantages. Chance may seat you where you find returning acts doing things you hadn't time to see last time. But it's impossible to see them all, so let's rejoice it's no longer five rings.
My first discovery came watching a newcomer to the roman rings, one Dolly Jacobs. I was so intrigued with watching her on those circles like Lillian Lietzel once used, I didn't get to see the Armon troupe in the further ring. But no matter, Jacobs is a tiny, daring lass and only later did I learn she was brought up in the circus by her father, Lou Jacobs, a clown now in his 56th season. Dolly broke away to create her own act, unveiled this year. It's a beauty.
The Carrillo Brothers, working on a high wire 42 feet above no net, are fellows I'd be uncomfortable to sit under but they do credit to Colombia just as Carl Wong, who works up top on a swaying pole, does credit for China. In this truly international world, Bulgaria, Poland and Hungary are represented and so is Ireland, whose Stephenson's Dogs have glorious Irish humor.
Gebel-Williams has evolved new turns for his leopards, panthers, pumas and elephants, his daughter has a turn with horses, and isn't that his son in the glittery red jacket? It's a family show in the rings and up in the stands, and new turns glitter all around.