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The Big Apple Circus is Big Time Fun ~ At National Harbor

Jordan Wright
March 12, 2018 

National Harbor is thrilled to host the Big Apple Circus to celebrate their 10th anniversary.  “We are delighted to bring such a highly acclaimed circus to National Harbor.  In honor of our 10th year, we’re welcoming several new premium events, including Big Apple Circus,” said Rachel Ball, Director of Events at National Harbor. “The performers with Big Apple Circus are extremely talented and it’s no surprise that they just received rave reviews throughout the east coast and currently for their show in Atlanta.”

Host and WJLA Weatherman Brian van de Graaff opened the show to an excited audience of children and adults who roared at the hilarious clowns (a slip-and-slide routine, high flying routine and plenty of fart jokes the kids ate up!), a beautiful contortionist, tons of tumblers, jugglers and acrobats along with eight clever dogs, precious mini-ponies and pretty horses all accompanied by an 8-piece live band.

Ringmaster Tyrone McFarlan welcomes the audience to the Big Apple Circus at National Harbor ~ Photo credit Jordan Wright

Led by Ringmaster Tyrone “Ty” McFarlan and famed for its one-ring, intimate and artistic style, this circus claims no seat is more than 50 feet from the performers.  And as we watched several audience members were called up to play jokes along with the clowns.  This intimate setting separates the Big Apple Circus from the style the now-defunct Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey made famous.  More importantly, there are no exotic animals – a practice that, rightly so, has finally been condemned.

Nik Wallenda and The Flying Wallendas perform their seven-person pyramid on the high wire ~ Photo credit Jordan Wright

Recently purchased by renowned orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Neil Kahanovitz, who along with his wife performed as trapeze and acrobatic artists after college, the circus now celebrates its 40th  anniversary with a full lineup of global artist and acts, the biggest and best-known headliners being 10-time Guinness world record-holding high wire artist Nik Wallenda and The Fabulous Wallendas performing their famous seven-person pyramid on the high wire.  Nik is the seventh generation of Great Wallendas who trace their roots back to the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1780.  For Nik, whose motto is #NeverGiveUp, every walk is an expression of honor to his great-grandfather, the legendary Karl Wallenda who brought the family to America for The Greatest Show on Earth.  You’ll also thrill to see the daring quadruple somersault on the trapeze by The Flying Tunizianis for the first time in circus history that both legendary feats are performed under the same big top.

Jan Damm on the Rola Bola reaches new heights ~ Photo credit Jordan, Wright

These record-setting acts are joined by Dandino & Luciana, a dynamic duo who combine speed, acrobatics and daredevil grace on roller skates; award-winning contortionist Elayne Kramer; master juggler Gamal Garcia; Jan Damm on the Rola Bola; acclaimed Risley acrobats The Anastasini Brothers (who broke the World Record for most flips on Nov. 9, 2017); and the lovely Jenny Vidbel, who performs in the ring with 16 horses and ponies as well as six rescue dogs.

Jenny Vidbel with her mini ponies Photo credit Jordan Wright

Outside of the ring, Big Apple Circus continues to honor the essential and iconic characteristics that have set them apart for the past four decades with multiple community outreach programs and a vital no-wild-animals policy.  Their “Circus of the Senses” performances offer special enhanced experiences for audiences with autism, visual and auditory challenges and other special performances include ASL interpretation, assistive listening devices with live audio commentary, pre- and post-show touch therapy experiences, and a Braille program book. Sensory-friendly performances for Autistic audience members feature lowered light and sound levels, a descriptive picture book showing the different areas and acts involved with the circus, and a “calming center” that can be accessed at any point during the show.

The Big Apple Circus 40th anniversary season is directed by Mark Lonergan, artistic director of three-time Drama Desk Award-nominated physical theater company Parallel Exit, with choreography and associate direction by Antoinette DiPietropolo and music direction by Rob Slowik. Tony Award-winning Lighting Designer Jeff Croiter (Peter and the Starcatcher, Something Rotten!), Scenic Designers Rob Bissinger (Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark, Legally Blonde – Assoc) and Anita LaScala (Magic Mike Live) of ARDA Studio, Inc, and Drama Desk-nominated Costume Designer Amy Clark (Heathers: The Musical, Chaplin) come together to create a vibrant environment to fit the momentous occasion.

Highly recommended for all ages. 

Through Sunday, April 1st.  For tickets and performance times visit or call 855-258-0718. Ticket prices range from $27.50 – $109 for VIP Ringside. Group tickets start at $17.50.  At 238 Waterfront St., National Harbor, Md. 20745 (intersection of Waterfront St. and St. George Blvd.).  Parking is available in the National Harbor St. George or Mariner garages.

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