Friday, Feb 5, 2010 Posted on Thu, Feb. 04, 2010
Zing Zang Zoom: Circus adds the world of magic and illusion
By OTIS R. TAYLOR JR.
When the circus comes to town, one expects three things: thrills, excitement and bumbling comedy provided by clowns.
Seeing the circus is a magical experience for some. But if you go to Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Zing Zang Zoom circus this week, you will really see magic.
For the first time in its 126-year history, the circus, which will be at the Colonial Life Arena today through Sunday, will have a magician leading the affair.
Meet Alex Ramon, the Zingmaster.
"I never would've imagined being in a Ringling Bros. circus," he said. "I also take on the duties of a tradition ringmaster.
"I have big boots to fill."
But as a magician, he knows anything is possible - especially if a trick is played on the eyes and mind.
Magic in a venue the size of the Colonial Life Arena is a bit different, the Zingmaster said. There's no fourth wall, which refers to the imaginary "wall" in the front of a stage. In fact, the stage is a 360-degree environment.
"It has to be seen by everybody for all people to enjoy," he said about the tricks.
Ramon's specialty is illusions, and he worked with the "Steven Spielberg" of illusions, Jim Steinmeyer, who has worked with masterful magicians such as David Copperfield.
Here's just two things you'll see - or won't see, depending on how you see it. (Tricky, huh?)
- An elephant will disappear.
- Kids randomly pulled from the audience will make their parents levitate.
"You won't see these anywhere in the world," Ramon said.
Ramon, and his assistant, Levitytia, also have to defend the fantastical spirit they create against Mr. Gravity and his team of Heavies in a struggle of good versus evil under the big top.
This isn't the first time Alex has been to Columbia. In 2006, he trained for five weeks at The Township for the production "Disney Live! Mickey's Magic Show." The show had its world premiere at the venue in April of that year.
"I'm excited to come back," Ramon said, recalling Mellow Mushroom in the Vista and, of course, this city's love of the Gamecocks.
"I still have a couple of friends that I met there."
For Zing Zang Zoom, the Zingmaster trained for about a year. Is this a dream come true?
"I never saw (a circus) growing up as a kid," he said. "The first one I saw was after the producer said I want you to be in it."
The wow-worthy high-wire acts and clumsy clowns will still excite the crowd. And now the mystery of magical illusions have been added.
Could the self-proclaimed "Greatest Show on Earth" be even greater?
See - if you can follow the tricks - if it happens for yourself.