‘Big Top’ takes audience to circus with clowning artistry

Bob Evans | KC Applauds

In Kansas City from before the 1950s and through the 60s and beyond, two major circuses came to town, The Shrine Circus and the Police Circus. In the earlier times those were in the Municipal Auditorium downtown and then later at Kemper Arena.

Excited children saw the pitch and advertising on billboards all over town, in the newspaper, and on TV advertising and news programs. The hype was extensive and the circus always a family event and child pleaser.

Bob Evans | KC Applauds

Well, the circus returns in a new form, a one-man clown act performed by David Gaines who serves as ring-master, elephant, chimpanzee, strongman, tight rope walker, dog, animal trainer, clown, audience member, popcorn maker, poop-scooper, cotton candy maker, and more. Just for extra drama and tenderness, throw in a romance–just for fun.

“Big Top” causes Gaines to move constantly for an hour-long presentation in an ultra physical show where the brings the circus to town and preforms a three ring circus for his audience with no props, minimal lighting changes, and a workout that would challenge the fittest of the fit.

Bob Evans | KC Applauds

Gains performs at a fever-pitch throughout the show bending, tumbling, “climbing”, marching, mimicking, and mugging for the audience as he brings the fun of a circuit to the Fringe Festival. His show is charming, interesting, and exhausting.

As an audience member, your mind remains on alert as he continues to change characters and settings and it may take a while for the audience to focus on the visualization he create with each of his spins into different characters and situations.

Be ready to laugh and engage with Gains in a family-friendly Fringe show that imitates a circus. The show draws all ages and from the look, tickets sales are strong. This is a fun show to introduce children to the KC Fringe.

Bob Evans | KC Applauds

“David Gaines, the five-star award winning performer of “7(x1) Samurai” returns with a tour-de-force of imagination and comic detail. A spectacular physical comedy full of danger, circus thrills, and a sweet romance. Fun for all ages. One performer on a bare stage, using only his body, imagination, and vocalizations. Wildly original. Like Popeye meets Chaplin meets Bugs Bunny! Fast-paced, ridiculous, poignant, and laugh-out-loud funny. If you grew up with cartoons, or never grew up at all, you’ll love It!” (KC Fringe)

The show is reminiscent of some short bits from a bygone era of TV’s Red Skelton. Skelton used to include a 5 minute comedy/pantomime in several of his weekly shows where he acted out different characters and events. “Big Top” is

Bob Evans | KC Applauds

similar, but far more outlandish and involved. Instead of a five-minute sketch, David Gaines expands to an hour-long routine with constant movement and flow.

At times it resembles “Road Runner” cartoons in that Gaines portrays a aggressor and victim, but in a sweet and charming way. There are no victims in his show. At times he’s the poor chap like Charlie Chaplin or Buster Keaton in the silent movie day. But, at the same time, brings all the fun and joy of a circus coming to town with strong men, aerial artists, tightrope walkers, elephants, horses, dogs, chimps, clowns, ring-masters and so on.

Tags: “Big Top” review, Kansas City Fringe Festival, Kansas City Theatre, Kansas City Performing Arts, Kansas City Arts & Entertainment, City Stage, Union Station


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