It's been 16 months since Feld Entertainment announced plans to reboot the “Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus.” Manatee County-based live production and performance giant Feld Entertainment has spent that past year and change in preparation mode, from casting to scripting to rehearsing.
The result is a show titled “The Greatest Show on Earth,” scheduled to debut Sept. 29 in Louisiana. After that comes a 50-city North American tour with stops from Phoenix to Philadelphia. A Florida swing, with stops in Tampa, Orlando, Jacksonville and South Florida, is scheduled for January.
The original show, under the Ringling name, ran for 146 years, through 2017. Feld Entertainment removed elephants from the show in 2016, and company officials later said a drop in ticket sales sans elephants was greater than expected, which led to the eventual shuttering of the show. One thing the audience won’t find is a circus. The word circus isn’t part of the show this time around, in branding, marketing or even the name.
Feld Entertainment officials allowed a Business Observer photographer to spend a recent September morning inside the Palmetto facility, documenting the controlled chaos of show preparation. Some of the details and behind-the-scenes information for “The Greatest Show" include:
Auditions for "The Greatest Show On Earth" took place in countries including Ethiopia, France, Mongolia, Argentina and the United States. More than 4,000 applications and digital submissions were received.
The cast will consist of 75 performers. Acts include aerial, acrobatics, world dance, music and comedy.
Performers hail from more than 18 countries including Ethiopia, Mongolia, Ukraine, Argentina, Cuba, Italy, Spain, Canada and the U.S.
The show includes just over 50 crew members. The entire show will travel in about 27 semi-trucks.
Mark Gordon is the managing editor of the Business Observer. He has worked for the Business Observer since 2005. He previously worked for newspapers and magazines in upstate New York, suburban Philadelphia and Jacksonville.