August's Caribbean Carnival has left Dorchester/ Roxbury residents hooked on the stimulating sounds and sights of that rowdy festival. Now the Big Apple Circus with its 26th season: Carnevale brings five whole weeks of those infectious rhythms and dazzling spectacles back to our neighborhood, pitching their star-spangled big top for the first time at Columbia Point's Bayside Expo Center.
This Mardi Gras madness motif turns up in the music (including reggae, calypso and zydeco), set décor (lush tropical blooms on the proscenium), and costumes (some of which look like body paint). The "Carnevale" spirit is evident everywhere in the exuberance fueling this, the fastest-paced edition of the Big Apple in recent memory.
Clowns are the soul of any circus. Grandma (Barry Lubin), a recent inductee into the International Clown Hall of Fame, covers many a set change with his/her sassy audience rapport. Vallery, a virtuoso of bruising physical comedy, teeters between head-aches and belly-laughs.
Andrey Markov helps his toy and giant Schnauzers through a cute routine in the first half; more interestingly the pooches return the favor assisting him through his juggling act in the second half of the show. Similarly, pretty as Katja Schumann's dappled greys are, these plumed horses routine from Act One is quickly forgotten, when a quartet of dromedaries and a llama trot through similar paces later in the evening.
Both acts have neck-craning, throat-clenching finales. The Aniskin Troupe conclude their trapeze act with a shocking head-first dive from the top of the tent. The Carrillos dizzying high wire display features jump-roping and swordfighting. Pedro Carrillo is the only person doing backflips on the tightrope today. He hopes to raise his world record of consecutive high wire jumps from 780 to 1,000 while at Bayside.
When was the last time you caught a Guinness Book champ performing right in your own backyard?
Carnevale: Big Apple Circus is at the Bayside Expo Center through May 9.