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Saturday, October 30, 2010

ZING ZANG ZOOM IN OPENS IN PITTSBURGH


The magical Zingmaster Alex Ramon performs illusions.

Circus aims for the 'Greatest (magic) Show on Earth'
By Kellie B. Gormly, PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Friday, October 29, 2010
With the addition of magic tricks, "Zing Zang Zoom" -- this year's production of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus -- is so zany and different that it doesn't even have a ringmaster, the circus says. Instead, it has a "zingmaster."
That zingmaster -- Alex Ramon, 25, from San Francisco -- is the first professional magician to lead the circus, which is coming to Consol Energy Center on Wednesday for its annual five-day run. "Zing Zang Zoom" combines all the traditional circus favorites -- acrobatics, clowns, elephants and more -- with magic from the zingmaster, who performs tricks while directing the circus in between acts. Ramon says he'll make an elephant disappear, transform a clown into a tiger, and other seemingly impossible tricks.
"This is a show you'll never forget," Ramon says. "It's everything that you know and love with the Ringling Brothers with a special twist. ... Welcome to 'The Greatest Show on Earth.' "
Audiences will be dropping their jaws as they witness the animal acts, the difficult acrobatic stunts, the magic tricks and more, he says. Ramon will invite the audience to participate in the magic, too. In one instance, he calls kids and parents onto the floor and makes the kids his "student wizards." Then, the kids make their parents levitate, or float in the air.
"Magic promotes a sense of wonder," Ramon says. "Magic makes you scratch your head."
In this 139th edition of the circus, featuring 85 traveling animals, "Zing Zang Zoom" replaces "Abracadabra" as the magic words. The show contains 27 acts, 12 magical illusions and the Clown Alley Blow-off number prior to the National Anthem. The clowns perform their comical mayhem throughout the show, says Dustin Portillo, who is the circus' "Boss Clown." The clowns help Ramon with his magic. They have a popular number called "chari-vari," where the clowns jump off of an acrobatic trampoline, flip over a gymnastic pommel horse, and land on mats.
"It's a lot of flips and spins and jumps," says Portillo, who is from Independence, Mo. "At the end, there is a big surprise for the audience."
The clowns entertain circus fans throughout the show with little gags, says Portillo, whose clown costume includes a red, white and gray striped sweater.
"We're the salt and pepper throughout the whole entire show," he says. "We kind of keep the show flowing."
Ramon says everyone can find something to love about the circus.
"As a kid, I never saw a circus," he says. "Now I feel cheated; I really wish I had. I think everyone should have a chance to.
"It really is an American tradition," Ramon says. "It really is an icon in America and showbiz as a whole."

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