From Moscow to San Diego, from Lillian Leitzel to Elvin Bale, I've never seen so dazzling a sequence of star turns as the second half of the new "Circus America." Playing tonight through Jan. 7 at Capital Centre, where I saw a Saturday preview, this one-ring sizzler will be a hard-to-top circus.
America consolidation of circuses around the turn of the century muffled awareness of European style, one-ring circuses. But now the bewilderment of which ring to watch is yielding to the excitements of a single ring's concentration. Building a successor to Capital Centre's halting first effort of 1974, Barry Silberman, Joe Bauer and Bill Hall have rustled up some great acts:
Tiger turns never been a personal favorite but David Mcmillan's fast-paced bravura - and nuzzeling - with his 18 tigers, black panther and African lion introduce a grand new twist, Gunther Goebbel-Williams, watch out.
Norby is built on the classic turn of a clowning gorilla who clambers over benches to the top of the stands with dynamic, wig-snatching dash. Hilarious.
Miss Liza is a trapeze heel-hanger just awarded top honors at the Monte Carlo international circus festival. A hair-curler.
The Leighs jog stop a gyroscope, a turn almost as dazzling as Bale's elaboration on it. Dazzling.
Christiani's Elephants, a long-established act, is down to four pachyderms but the new generation handles them stylishly. Cool.
Sixth generation of the famed family, the new Great Wallendas, including Karl's granddaughter Rietta, are high-wire supremes whose chair pyramid atop cycles 50 feet up silences the house. A wesome.
Finale in Hugo Zacchini's ear-shattering ride out of a cannon into his precisely placed net. Whammy.
Not that Act I is negligible, including the trapeze turn of the Flying Espanas with 10 and 12-year-old Anita and Dino's youthful style on the medium wire; the Bauers on their sway polea; the Rixes ns their bears; and some clown acts, notably Italy's Dillelos in their U.S. bow, and Miss Elizabeth's warm-up, "Leap for Life." Local precision dancers, trained in a hurry, are alas, imprecise, but this is the solee flaw in a parade that races along to the Wallenda Zacchini climax.
It won't be easy to reunite such turns as these.