Review “Circus 1903” (Broadway in Chicago): Rare Experience of Being Taken Back in Time

Thursday, March 23, 2017 Permalink

Reviewed by Abby Simon

Broadway in Chicago presents CIRCUS 1903

This show was a truly unique experience, being taken back to the golden age of the circus – when going to the circus was a town holiday. It was interesting to think that during this time, a circus coming into town was THE entertainment that entire towns would buzz about. Being completely immersed in the preparation and participation of what the circus was like was very captivating.

The entire first act takes place whilst the tent is being put up and prepared for the show – all while being wildly entertained by men flipping through the air on a seesaw, a mesmerizing contortionist, the most graceful bicyclist I have ever seen, a beautiful aerialist, and a dazzling juggler. I’m going to have to admit that I was extremely amazed by this juggling act. He sealed the deal when he dropped his pins, paused his show, and ran into the crowd to give his mom a hug announcing “This is my mum.”

When the second act begins, we see the tent going up in the background and the “circus” begins. The entire experience with the magnificent talent and the set design was incredible. My biggest takeaway was absolutely the puppetry behind Queenie and Peanut – the circus’ mother and baby elephant. It was so interesting to see the detail behind these creatures as their movement felt so lifelike. For a moment, I was shocked that they had such well-behaved animals on the stage – that’s how real these animals appear.

To this day, entire families have obtained such captivating talent that has traveled from generation to generation and work in productions like this. The hard work and dedication to this art form is so beautiful to see. The show was wonderful for both young and old – as the circus is intended. There were several moments throughout the show which children were brought on stage for some light participation. If you’re looking for a rare experience of being taken back in time, I’d recommend checking out this show.

Running time: 2 hours with a 15-minute intermission

At Oriental Theatre

Directed by: Neil Dorward

Runs until: March 26
Thursday, March 23 – 7:30PM
Friday, March 24 – 7:30PM
Saturday, March 25 – 2:00PM & 8:00PM
Sunday, March 26 – 2:00PM & 7:30PM

Tickets at or (800) 775-2000


For more information and reviews on Chicago theatre, visit Theater in Chicago.


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