“The Greatest Show on Earth” returns featuring unusual people and no beasts five years after the circus closed with three rings, Ringling Bros. announced Wednesday. and Barnum & Bailey.


What you need to know

  • “The Greatest Show on Earth” returns – without animal performances – five years after the closing of the circus with three rings
  • Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey announced on Wednesday that their show will continue in September 2023
  • It will be interactive, engaging with audiences and celebrating performers from around the world, featuring what he calls “incredible feats that push the boundaries of human potential.”
  • The Florida-based company says it is conducting a global talent search, and rehearsals for next year’s tour will begin next month, visiting more than 50 North American cities.

Talent teams have already auditioned in Argentina, Mongolia, Ethiopia, France and the United States, and more than 1,000 performers have applied for a tour of 50 cities in North America starting in September 2023 and international dates to come, according to owner of the historic circus, Feld Entertainment.

“For us, Ringling is about bringing the world’s talent to people’s hometowns,” said Juliet Feld Grossman, chief operating officer, in an interview with the Associated Press. “We’re fun for everyone, and it’s important that everyone who comes to the show finds something and someone that they can truly connect with and communicate with.”

The company heard from many fans after ending its 146-year operation five years ago after harsh criticism over the use of circus animals, and reviewed their comments, rethinking how to “keep the franchise fresh and alive,” she said.

In the new production, the audience will become “employees” with the performers, bringing them closer to the action and creating different impressions of each show, she said.

Ringling also wants to “tell the personal stories of the performers,” she said.

“Our performers dedicate their lives to often risky, technically complex and sporting performances, and they do it because they admire it,” she said. “And we want our audience to know more about them, to understand how they trained, where they came from, what inspired them to create and develop that skill.”

The circus has removed tents after years of declining ticket sales as customers have become ambiguous about circus animals. Expensive court battles led to the cessation of acts with elephants in 2016. In a statement Wednesday, people praised “animal-free repairs” for the ethical treatment of animals.

After the closure, it became clear that the circus still “holds a special place in people’s hearts,” Feld Grossman said.

“Every time I meet someone and tell them something about what I do, they tell me their personal story about Ringling and the first time they went, or the most memorable time when they went. This is something that confirms to us, that confirms that we have something special here, ”she said.

“It will be really special for parents when they bring their children and grandparents, and have such continuity in generations who enjoy the kind of entertainment that has existed for so long but still talks to them.”

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