All-new circus allows audience front-row view

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey to present "Fully Charged, Gold Edition"

RINGLING BROS. AND BARNUM & BAILEY CIRCUS/SPECIAL
The Elephant Brunch to start the circus weekend returns at 2 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 6, outside James Brown Arena. The free event is a chance to learn about the elephants as they snack on fruits and vegetables.
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The performance known as “The Greatest Show on Earth” is coming back to town. Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey will present its circus act “Fully Charged, Gold Edition” from Feb. 7 to 10 at James Brown Arena.

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Dean Kelley, a clown with Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, will perform throughout each show.  RINGLING BROS. AND BARNUM & BAILEY CIRCUS/SPECIAL
RINGLING BROS. AND BARNUM & BAILEY CIRCUS/SPECIAL
Dean Kelley, a clown with Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, will perform throughout each show.

Tickets are $21, $26, $31 and $37 through the arena box office, online at www.georgia
linatix.com or by calling (877) 4AUGTIX. Ages 2 and older must have a ticket.

“This year it’s a brand-new show,” said Dean Kelley, a clown with Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey and host of the All-Access Pre-Show, during a telephone interview.

“It’s completely different from what’s been to Augusta before. This particular show is a one-ring show, so the closest seat that you can get to the ring is about 15 feet away. We’re bringing you up close and personal.”

The circus has a new ringmaster, David Shipman, and performers from all over the world. The show includes acts such as juggling, acrobatics, knife throwing, trampoline artists and motorcyclists riding in a metal sphere.

Animals are also a big part of show, from horses and elephants to dogs, camels and miniature horses.

“There are very few things your entire family can go out and do together anymore,” Kelley said. “We’re one of the last things in the country where you can just bring your entire family. It doesn’t matter how old or how young you are. You can enjoy each other’s company and a great show at the same time.”

The fun starts one hour before the show at the All-Access Pre-Show, which is free to all ticket holders and provides a backstage experience.

“Everyone is invited to come on down to the arena floor. You can meet all of the performers, see some performances that you don’t get to see in the actual show itself and even take a backstage tour and get a look at some of our animals,” Kelley said.

During the All-Access Pre-Show, circus-goers can also try on circus costumes, learn skills from circus acts, get autographs, take pictures and watch Kelley showcase his circus skills and dance moves.

An elephant will make a foot print, and attendees can enter a raffle to win the print, he said.

A native of Kansas City, Kan., Kelley was 4 years old when he attended his first Ringling Bros. circus. He had a chance to spend one-on-one time with one of the clowns during the show and he was inspired.

“They were just getting to have a lot of fun and act goofy and silly, and people were loving them. I said, ‘That’s what I want to do when I grow up,’ ” Kelley said.

Over the years, he came out to see the Ringling Bros. circus each year, and he hasn’t missed one yet. In college, Kelley took courses in theater and began working as an actor and clown.

He performed in venues on behalf of major sports teams, museums and corporations.

In 2002, Ringling Bros. held its first open call for clowns in 30 years in Anaheim, Calif., and Kelley auditioned. He was hired on the spot to join the 133rd Edition’s Clown Alley.

“About four months after that, I was on the road learning a show,” Kelley said. “I’ve been to 48 states out of 50 in the United States. I’m in a new city every single week. It’s a really cool job.”

Kelley will perform throughout the show, including a dog act. He is skilled in juggling, stilt walking, unicycle riding, balancing and spinning objects and making sound effects. This is his fourth time performing in Augusta.

“Augusta is one of my favorite towns. There’s a company there called Dr. Bukk. They make fake teeth. I always go visit there and get some funny looking teeth. It’s great,” Kelley said.

IF YOU GO

WHAT: Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Presents “Fully Charged, Gold Edition”

WHEN: Doors open one hour before the show.

• Thursday, Feb. 7, 7 p.m.

• Friday, Feb. 8, 10:30 a.m. and 7 p.m.

• Saturday, Feb. 9, 11 a.m., 3 and 7 p.m.

• Sunday, Feb. 10, 1 and 5 p.m.

WHERE: James Brown Arena

TICKETS: $21, $26, $31, $37; ages two and older require ticket; arena box office, georgialinatix.com, (877) 4AUGTIX


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