Ringling ain’t the only ‘greatest’ show in town • Brooklyn Paper

Ringling ain’t the only ‘greatest’ show in town

Alice Shi will perform at CIRCUSunday at Barge 79 in Red Hook on June 21.
Deborah Grosmark

With the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey about to convene this week under the big top in Coney Island, I thought it worthwhile to revisit the exemplary mini-cirque housed in the Waterfront Museum barge next to the Fairway Market in Red Hook.

A comparison between the larger Ringling Brothers extravaganza is unfair, of course — unfair to Ringling Brothers, I mean. While certainly the Coney Island affair will bowl you over with its spectacle (and, lest we forget, elephants, who are generally not allowed on barges), the Waterfront Museum’s “CIRCUSundays” performances offer an unheard of level of intimacy.

The kids on the floor are literally inches from the whirling dervishes, spinning juggling pins, clever legerdemain and comic tango dancing on stage.

Every Sunday’s lineup changes, but this week, the performers were strong, with a few caveats:

• German acrobat Petra Lange opened up the show by cavorting atop a table, climbing on it without using her hands, which is not easy to do. Later, she returned and did a spellbinding rope-hanging act, again, showing off her extremely functional thighs.

• Rudi Macaggi entered as he typically does, dressed as an enormously overweight Pavarotti who does 180-degree, over-the-top flips despite a prodigious belly. Macaggi then doffed the fat suit and proceeded to balance head-first on a basketball atop a stool. Not even the Harlem Globetrotters ever pulled that off.

Later, he did a pas-de-deux with a statuesque lady who gave me a reason to live.

• English magician Luke Wilson offered subpar sleight-of-hand, but when the “magic” gave way to juggling, the entire audience sat up and took notice. Wilson has a gift for comic timing, and he never lost his sense of humor, even as he had five juggling pins in the air at one time.

• Ami Hattab, using the stage name “Alexander Jr.,” channeled a bit of Pee Wee Herman for his fun, cheek-slap version of Mozart’s “Turkish March,” but he needs to edit down the interstitial commentary and stick to making popping noises with his face. That’s the crowd pleaser, Ami.

You only have two more chances to catch CIRCUSundays. I recommend it heartily.

CIRCUSundays at the Waterfront Museum & Showboat Barge [Pier 44, Conover and Beard streets in Red Hook, (718) 624-4719], June 21 and 28; 1 and 4 pm. Tickets in advance, $14 (kids under 12 are $10); $18 and $12 on the day of the show.

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