Tight-rope thrills, titillating acrobatics and music that makes you groove – it’s all part of what makes the UniverSoul Circus an end-of-your-seat experience. (You’ll want to skip those usual concession-stand trips).
In some ways, this circus is everything you’d expect to see: death-defying moves in mid-air, tamed tigers, trained elephants, zany clowns and contortionists with rubber band-like bodies.
But its difference is its main attraction: a multicultural cast, representing talent from South Africa, the Dominican Republic, Ethiopia, South America (more than a dozen countries in all), that performs electrifying feats to high-octane hip-hop, gospel, funk and R&B beats.
The two-hour-plus performance delivers gasp-after-gasp, thanks to a number of performers like the Chinese acrobatic troupe that participated in 2008 Beijing Olympics, nimble foot jugglers, hands-free, ace horseback riders, daring wheel walkers, a beloved clown named “Onionhead” and an auntie-like character who interacts with the crowd as if she’s known you since childhood.
Launched in 1994 by Atlanta-based businessman Cedric Walker, the UniverSoul Circus (then called the Universal Big Top Circus) is in its 16th season and gaining momentum. And, not surprisingly it has been named among Ticketmaster’s “Most Requested Family Attractions.”
Walker, a former stage manager and promoter (he once worked with the Commodores and the Jackson Five), always loved the circus, but didn’t see many mirror images of himself in it. So, he decided to create a setting that showcased global multicultural talent at its best. Thus, the UniverSoul Circus was birthed.
This year alone, the circus will tour more than 30 cities. “The reaction is great,” says circus emcee Andre McClain, a third-generation cowboy who has also worked as a circus animal trainer. “Every city we’ve been in, you literally have people jumping out of their seats. This is a show you have to see to believe. It’s pretty amazing. This is my party, and I’m inviting Milwaukee.”
The UniverSoul Circus will ring in viewers through Sept. 7 at Maier Festival Park-Summerfest. Prices range from $16.50 to $25.