Ringling's 'Super Circus Heroes' hits Mobile Civic Center next week
For Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey ringmaster David Shipman, Mobile is familiar territory: He grew up in Pensacola. (Courtesy of Feld Entertainment)
By Lawrence Specker | firstname.lastname@example.org
May 27, 2014
One thing Ringmaster David Shipman wants to make clear right up front: "Super Circus Heroes" isn't about mixing comic-book brands with circus sparkle.
The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey production comes to the Mobile Civic Center arena Thursday, June 5, through Sunday, June 8. While it does purport to feature it share of "superhuman athleticism, power and pageantry," it's more about "the bravery, courage and honor that lives inside all of us."
"This is unlike anything we've ever done before," said Shipman. "The message itself is so beautiful, it's something that everybody really can take away from ... the idea is that everyone has a hero within themselves, they just have to have the strength and the courage to bring it out."
In this day and age it takes a strong storyline to keep onlookers invested in a program, and Shipman said this production has one. "The cool thing about our show, we have this guy, Mr. Boredom, who starts out at the beginning of the show as this guy who is an average Joe, he's kind of lazy, and he doesn't really know what he's good at." For him, and the audience, the show is a journey to find his gifts.
Of course, it also features its share of action. Featured acts include the Lopez Family, specializing in high-wire and motorcycle globe stunts; Shaolin warriors; the Cuban Comets teeterboard troupe; the Lighting Rods hand-balancing trio; the Twin Titans aerial strap act; Clown Alley; and animals including elephants, horses, camels and more.
Shipman said one his favorite aspects of the show is an all-access pre-show that takes place an hour before showtime and which is free to all ticketholders. It gives children a chance to meet performers, try on costumes and even try their hand at a few circus skills. "We call it our superhero training camp," he said.
The close contact has taken on new meaning since a recent accident in Rhode Island, in which a troupe of nine aerial performers fell during a performance. That was a different tour, not the one passing through Mobile. Speaking of the injured performers, Shipman said, "The girls are in good spirits."
"Part of what makes us the Greatest Show on Earth is that there is an element of risk in everything we do," he said. "We have been so overwhelmed with love and encouragement and support and prayers and healing energy."
"It's a genuine concern," he said. "It's a beautiful thing to see how much people care. Circus is family. Ringling is family, period."
For Shipman, there Mobile show brings another element of family. He's originally from Pensacola, where he participated in various performing arts ensembles on his way to a career in theater. So a visit to Mobile is almost a visit home, which is hard to come by when you're hitting 48 cities in 46 weeks.
"I've got so many friends and family who are coming to the show, because it is so close," he said
"Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey: Super Circus Heroes" will present shows at the Mobile Civic Center at 7 p.m. June 5 and 6; 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. June 7; and 2 p.m. June 8. Ticket prices range from $15 to $50; advance tickets are available at the Mobile Civic Center box office and through Ticketmaster. Children ages 2 and older must have tickets. For more information, visit www.ringling.com.