Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus

Like vanilla ice cream with a splash of Tabasco, or Barbie with a mohawk, the 138th edition of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus adds some edge to a nostalgic childhood favorite. Yes, the century-old formula still satisfies all big-top expectations. Elephants—check. Clowns—check. Acrobats, equestrians, tiger tamers, motorcycles on a high wire—check, check, check, check. But this production’s more frenetic plot-driven pace, pop music, pyrotechnics, and single jam-packed ring are now formatted to hold the limited attention of today’s media-saturated kids and adults. Call it Circus 2.0. If the acts aren’t new, they’re certainly “Over the Top” (the name of this tour, which runs through Sunday). For example, there’s “Super” Wellington Silva, Brazil’s own Spiderman in flame-accented Spandex, who uses loops to walk on the ceiling above the audience. He performs at a greater height (40 feet!) with more speed (he’s practically skipping!), more danger (no nets, no harness!), and more intricate skill (asymmetrical trapezes!) than any other acrobat in the world. According to one recent observer, “I nearly crapped my pants watching him walk upside down.” But don’t worry about his pants: Since his professional debut at age 8, Silva’s had plenty of time to practice. Everett Events Center (Comcast Arena), 2000 Hewitt Ave., 866-332-8499, www.ringling.com. $14–$76. 7:30 p.m. SARA NIEGOWSKI

Sept. 4-7, 7:30 p.m., 2008

 
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