Home Arts What’s this circus coming to town? We’ve got your answers

What’s this circus coming to town? We’ve got your answers


The big top is on its way to the Fox Valley.

The Facebook ads have been in regular rotation for Cirque Italia’s Water Circus, which will set up outside the Fox River Mall for performances over four days beginning Oct. 3. 

It’s a brand of entertainment from an era past. The big tent circus doesn’t roll into town with the regularity it once did.

We had questions, so we’re sure you do, too. We figured we’d dig around and collect a few of the answers before the caravan comes rolling into town.

Are there animals? 

Keep the picket signs in the trunk. There’s not a lion, tiger, elephant or hoop-jumping poodle in the entire troupe. The most controversial aspect of circus in our modern era is absent from the Cirque Italia show. While animal acts can certainly amaze, we applaud the choice to solely feature entertainers who don’t have to be beaten into submission to do entertaining stuff.

What is a Water Circus?

Per Cirque Italia, their unique stage holds 35,000 gallons of water. Online reviews — in kind and not-so-kind ways — have made note that acts aren’t performed in water. There are no swimmers nor submerged escapes. Rather, the water is a thematic element. It’s more of a set piece. Acts, for instance, are performed at center with fountains streaming around the artists.

So, is this like Cirque du Soleil?

Reviewers say the show has more in common with the circus of old than the phenomenon filling arenas and Las Vegas stages.

There are clowns, aerial acts, contortionists and The Wheel of Death.

“Cirque Italia marries the classic tradition of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus (minus the animal cruelty — no lions with snorkels in sight) with a European artistic sensibility,” wrote Brad Lacour in Dallas Observer.

For those who enjoy the old arts — the comedy, athleticism, balance and daring — it’s all there.

“Don’t write an obituary for circuses,” wrote Bruce R. Miller of the Sioux City Journal. “Cirque Italia proves there’s plenty of life in the format, as long as you add water and shake vigorously.”

Cirque Italia will perform in Grand Chute from Oct. 3-6, Oshkosh from Oct. 10-13, Manitowoc from Oct. 17-20 and Green Bay from Oct. 24-27. For tickets and more information, click here.

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