Review: UniverSoul Circus

With so much “adult-themed” entertainment around, it’s not easy to find something to take the kids to that grown-ups will also enjoy. My family and I found a great mix at the Atlanta-based UniverSoul Circus.

As wholesome, family entertainment, it gets high marks. But it doesn’t have as much of the awe-inspiring acts that I’ve come to expect from a circus.

A troupe of contortionists from Guinea, Africa, called the Bone Breakers were perhaps the most unusual and adorable. They appeared to be 12 to 18 years old and were able to twist themselves in the most interesting shapes. Like every act in the circus, they performed to contemporary music and looked like they were having fun. I got a kick out of them urging the audience to applaud. They were as cute as they were entertaining.

The Rough Riders, a horse act, was fast-paced and exciting. I found myself mesmerized by the feats and wowed by the performers’ prowess. The animals and the humans seemed to be in great shape and in control of their craft. While there was a bit of danger, there was also reassurance that they knew what they were doing.

I considered them the pinnacle of the show.

While the high wire act and the aerialists were engaging, they didn’t evoke the same rush of adrenaline or gasp of excitement during their ta-da moments.

Perhaps the biggest disappointment was the elephants. Outside of acts featuring lions, tigers or bears, I look forward to the thrill from these trained behemoths. They did a few tricks, but their big moment amounted to making sure one of the pachyderms didn’t squash a performer as she lay on the floor beneath them.

But a good time was generally had by all. Young and old alike hollered with laughter, and danced and sang along with those in the spotlight.

UniverSoul touts itself as heavy in audience participation, and attendees are included in probably a good third or fourth of the acts. The audience members in the show that I attended were so awesome I wondered if they weren’t ringers.

With tickets at $16 to $32, UniverSoul is among the least expensive circuses in town — prime Ringling Bros. seats go for $130 and Big Apple Circus tickets cost up to $60. And the intimate arena made every seat a great spot to see the action. If there is a complaint, it is that the cost of concessions adds up fast.

But bring cash for the typical treats for kids.

My husband and I brought our two children and two of their friends. We ended up spending more than $150 on: hot dogs at $3 each; snow cones were $5 (you keep a commemorative plastic cup). Nachos cost $6.50 and funnel cakes $3; popcorn was $6 for a big bucket; chicken wings $6 and cotton candy will set you back $7 (it comes with an animal-shaped visor).

And, of course, there are photos. Since outside photography isn’t allowed, we bought the kids pictures with a clown at $10 each and a group shot with an elephant for $15.

There were also light-up toys that were as much as $15 each.

But at the end of the day, the experience was a great reward for good grades.

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