Review & photographs by Stanley Johnson
Seeing the big top circus set up in a parking lot on Broadway next to the parking garage, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I was pleased to find the Zoppe Italian Family Circus to be one of the best circus experiences I’ve ever had.
Right from the beginning, the circus troupe showed its roots: an authentic tradition dating back to 1842 in San Firore, Italy. The circus sports costumes, make-up and skills which haven’t changed much in 170 years but are still thrilling and lots of fun to watch.
Outside the tent the performers greeted the customers both on the way in and out (imagine that anywhere else) and, during the introduction, stressed the family aspect, even though many in the group were from different countries. “Without family, you don’t have a circus,” they told the spectators.
As big and little kids stuffed themselves with popcorn and cotton candy, an amazing array of aerial acrobatics occurred, with high wire walkers riding bikes and rope dancers in aerial ballets followed by jugglers, knife-throwers, unicylclists, big horses, little horses, a clown who was very funny and an incredible acrobat (standing on the high wire he caught a hat thrown to him with his foot and then flipped it onto his head.)
You might wonder what kind of circus doesn’t have lazar lights, elephants, lions, tigers or bears. One that doesn’t need them, I say. This circus is a history lesson hidden in a lot fun.
Presented by Proctors, the Zoppé Italian Family Circus continues its run at the Big Top at Broadway & Hamilton streets in Schenectady through Sunday. Performances will be held at 1, 4 & 7pm today, and at 1 & 4pm on Sunday. Tickets are $25 & $35; $10 discount for ages 17 and under.