🎪‘Circus spirit’ without animals, ringmaster at new Ringling show

‘The Greatest Show on Earth’ runs Jan. 12-15, 2024, at Amway Center in Orlando

ORLANDO, Fla. – The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus closed its curtain in 2017 after animals were phased out of its performances.

But the iconic circus is back in a new way, combining technology and new elements with the classic circus spirit. The new show will feature performer Lauren Irving as a guide rather than a ringmaster.

“I think that’s a part of this whole revamp is that the idea of a ringmaster is not going to be so far away and untouchable. I’ll be with the audience and guiding them along this journey of discovery,” Irving said. “I don’t think a ringmaster is bad. I think it’s the fact that it’s an opportunity with new technology, sound and never-before-seen acts, taking the opportunity to connect with people who thought Ringling took its final bow but no, we didn’t. I think it’s a different way, same spirit.”

Irving said she’s been performing her whole life with years of experience working at Disney World and Universal Studios in Orlando and abroad, but this will be the first time she’s leading a circus.

“I have a passion for people and music and this is the perfect crossroads for that. A lot of what I’ll be doing involves music and hosting the show. Also connecting with the audience and really bringing everyone on that journey of discovery,” Irving said.

After nearly 150 years of performances, the Ringling circus returns but without animals.

“Now, what we’re doing is celebrating performers and athletes from all over the world, so this is the chance to really highlight the human ability,” Irving said.

The circus will include 75 performers from all over the world, pushing the limits with unique and dangerous acts in a 360-degree style arena.

Ringling is back with new circus in 2023 (Copyright 2023 by WKMG ClickOrlando - All rights reserved.)

“We’re going to have a triangular high wire. We’re going to have a crisscross flying trapeze going diagonal. We’re going to have a double ‘Wheel of Destiny’ and what I’m oddly excited about is the extreme trampoline. Imagine a trampoline with BMX bikes, unicycles and bicycles. I have no idea how this is going to be done myself,” Irving said. “There’s a lot of new technology with sound and with sight that has never been done before. To be a part of that and to bring those two worlds together will be lot of fun.”

Irving said the show is a celebration of time, bridging the generations who have seen the circus in the past with those who are experiencing the show for the first time.

Rehearsals for Ringling begin in July in Palmetto, Florida.

“The Greatest Show on Earth” will be in Orlando at the Amway Center Jan. 12-15 in 2024. Tickets are on sale starting at $25.

Have you seen the older Ringling shows before? Tell us about your experiences in the comments section. We’d love to hear about your memories and what you think about the new show.


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About the Author:

Crystal Moyer is a morning news anchor who joined the News 6 team in 2020.