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March 28, 2013

Backflipping through time

Big Apple Circus looks at its roots in Boston performances

For centuries, the circus has entertained viewers around the world by pushing the limits and showcasing thrilling acts.

This year, when The Big Apple Circus erects its big top on City Hall Plaza for its annual Boston engagement, the focus will be different.

Of course, thrills and laughter will ensue. This year, however, the show will look to the roots of the circus. “Legendarium” explores, you guessed it, the legends of circuses past, while keeping up the excitement and world-class acts for which The Big Apple is known.

“We’re going to set the tone of how things started,” said Ringmaster John Kennedy Kane. “But this is in no way a history lesson. It’s full of fun facts and great acts.”

Kane participated in one of the greatest circus legends himself when he ran away with the show more than 30 years ago. Since then, he has been a concessionaire, a clown, a magician, and a fire-eater, to name just a few. This is Kane’s first year as the ringmaster at Big Apple, but he was thrilled to already have been asked back for next season.

“My job is to make people believe I am in charge, that I’m more important than I am,” Kane said. “The ringmaster is an actor.”

While his stage persona may be an act, it is clear that Kane genuinely enjoys the unique perspective that being ringmaster gives him. During one of his favorite points in the show, Kane disappears above the set while the horse act performs. As the audience watches the 12 ponies galloping around the ring, Kane has a bird’s-eye view of the action.

“It’s amazing,” he said. “We almost need a camera up there to catch it.”

Over his years in show business, Kane has worked with more than 15 circuses. Working The Big Apple is a highlight of his career, he said.

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