By Merle Exit
As the lights come up on this year’s Big Apple Circus production of “Luminocity” it looks more like Times Square than its actual setting in Cunningham Park.
In this reimagined vision of the Crossroads of the World, a cast of performers dressed like businesswomen, construction workers and a dog walker slowly appear.
Finally, the Big Apple Circus Band strikes up the first chords of the show’s overture as Ringmaster John Kennedy Kane strolls onto the scene to begin a recent afternoon performance.
Jugglers, acrobats and plenty of clowning around provide audience members with an old-fashioned night at the circus.
“It made me feel like a kid again,” Woodhaven resident Carmen Feliciano said about her first experience with this troupe. “It was awesome to see the acts up close and see more interaction with the audience than going to a three-ring circus.”
Up first was Ty Tojo, a juggler who set a record with 248 catches while juggling with five balls when he was only 13. He recently earned another record with seven balls.
Rob Torres, dressed not in the usual red nose and big shoes one associates with clowns, but rather in a business suit, tie and red hat nevertheless proceeded to clown around with the crowd.
Early in the evening, Torres “caught” the audience’s applause in a large jewelry box, which he released throughout the night as a running joke. He invited several of the children and some adults to join him in the ring for some of his sillier bits and shtick.
The two businesswomen from the opening number shed their suits and revealed themselves to be the Mongolian Angels, Davaasuren Altantetseg and Narangua Altankhuyag, a double trapeze act.
Jenny Vidbel had the animal acts covered with her dog group performing tricks in Act 1 and a troupe of horses strutting around the ring after the intermission. Tightrope act, Duo Guerrero, Werner Guerrero and Aura Cardinali, performing on the high wire far above the crowd, including a bit where Guerrero balances a pole while Cardinali stands on his shoulders.
“The woman in the tightrope act had a great voice and the act itself made me fear for them as at one point there wasn’t any cushioning or net to land in,” Carmen Feliciano said.
The show ends with the Dosov Troupe, performing what was billed as a fireworks display, bouncing off a teeterboard, then twisting and turning in the air before landing on a cushion, all the while wearing stilts.
Woodhaven resident Juan Feliciano is one father who certainly enjoyed taking some of his family out for the afternoon.
“I loved seeing the expression on the children’s faces,” he said. “This is my nephew Calvin’s first time going to a circus. I highly recommend the show. “
Calvin Gerena, 4, was quite excited. He talked about the horses and juggler saying that he would like to learn the art.
“I loved the acrobats, too,” Calvin said. “And that funny guy.”
Julian Feliciano, 8, even unexpectedly got in on the act during one routine.
One performer tossed a hat toward a man sitting behind Julian, but the young audience member grabbed the flying headwear instead.
“I just liked catching the hat,” said Julian. “It’s OK that I had to give it to someone else. My favorite part was at the end when the men were flying in the air. The magician was funny, too.”
If you Go
Big Apple Circus Luminocity
When: Through June 15
Where: Cunningham Park, Union Turnpike and 193rd Street
Cost: $10 – $65