Circus 1903 ends on high note at Fisher Theatre
Mark Turner

"Circus 1903-The Golden Age of Circus" wrapped up its debut Detroit run at the Fisher Theatre today. The show is the brainchild from the producers of the world's biggest magic show, "The Illusionists", along with the award-winning puppeteers from "War Horse." The result is a thrilling, authentic turn-of-the-century circus spectacular.

The show includes everything that one would expect from a circus, from exciting daredevil entertainment and unique acts to life-size African elephants, showcased in spectacular visual puppetry. The pair, including baby Peanut, are magically enthralling and provide some wonderful moments during the production.

Circus performers from around the world take part in the show including contortionists, acrobats, high wire acts and jugglers. With many circuses pulling up stakes, including the "Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus," "Circus 1903" is really filling a void and is a great evening of family entertainment.

The show is presented in two acts: opening at the latest small town site as the circus performers help put the show together from the ground up and closing under the big top as the circus plays out, ending with a flourish on the high wire. The show is held together by the Ringmaster/Magician Willy Whipsnade, who keeps the audience laughing and smiling throughout.

Played by David Williamston, the character guides the action right from the start and did a great job of getting children from the audience involved in his stunts. His enthusiasm and charm are a delight to watch and his sweet interaction with one of the children late in the performance, as he shares his thoughts on the parallel between life and the circus, is a standout moment.

"Circus 1903" opened in late 2016 in Australia and has been getting praise at every stop since. The circus will next be hitting the stage at the Oriental Theater in Chicago from March 21 through March 26. The production will stay fresh as new acts are introduced, and there is talk that more puppets may be introduced down the line.