The circus is in town, and it’s so 19th century. Mr. Swindle’s Traveling Peculiarium, a traveling circus and vaudeville extravaganza running at Mizner Park Amphitheater Thursday to Sunday, will bring all manner of shady characters, soaring trapeze artists and impossibly jointed contortionists to audiences eager for a nostalgic change of pace in their entertainment diets.
“We were always inspired by the old-fashioned shows, and we wanted to go back to what made those shows great,” says Allison Blei, co-owner of Salto Entertainment, which produces the event. “Our inspiration was P.T. Barnum. He was a bit of a character we looked up to in the way he was able to show things, and it’s always with a funny flavor. It’s not just about a swindle; it’s more about having fun with it.”
Like Barnum’s pioneering Museum, Menagerie & Circus—which would evolve into the world-famous Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus—Blei’s venture is a smorgasbord chock-full of exceptional big-top talent, but with less of a freak-show ambience and more of a cheeky, postmodern sensibility. Its characters include co-host Dr. Elixir, a maker of cure-all patent medicines—all of them being essentially booze—his gold-digging wife Mrs. Sin and their incompetent nephews, Max and Theo. “They are basically there not based on skill but pure nepotism; and in the end they win you over,” Blei says…
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