Hometown hero and international superstar Nik Wallenda is collaborating with the Circus Arts Conservatory (CAC) to bring an extraordinary holiday spectacle, “A Brave New Wonderland,” to the CAC’s Holiday-Themed Big Top at UTC. The show, with 45 performances from November 18 through December 31, promises a blend of thrilling circus acts, mesmerizing aerial performances, and uplifting holiday storytelling, curated and produced under the creative eye of the “King of the High Wire” Wallenda himself, along with his world record-holding wife, Erendira Wallenda.
“Wonderland” will take audiences on a heartwarming and visually stunning journey that brings together the enchantment of the winter holidays and their unique traditions. As the audience steps into the magical world of the circus Big Top, they’ll be transported into a journey guided by multicultural and award-winning host/emcee Ty McFarland and his little buddy, the lighthearted, comedic, and childlike character Johnny.
Throughout the performance, Johnny embarks on a captivating odyssey, experiencing a series of mesmerizing acts and heartwarming stories that unveil the true essence of holiday traditions. From the dazzling lights of Hanukkah, to the joyous celebrations of Christmas, to the reflective moments of Kwanzaa, each holiday is beautifully represented.
Through breathtaking performances by artists from diverse backgrounds, captivating narratives, and the shared spirit of Wallenda’s personal tagline, “Never Give Up!”, “Brave New Wonderland” seeks to plant a seed of unity in the hearts of its audience. It’s a show where the magic of the season is not just about traditions and celebrations but also about embracing our differences and finding strength in diversity.
“When Nik came to us with the idea for ‘A Brave New Wonderland,’ we were thrilled to jump on the opportunity to collaborate and expand the reach and impact of the circus arts in the UTC area,” said CAC Executive Vice President/COO Jennifer Mitchell, whose daughter—Emma Clarke, a longtime Sailor Circus Academy participant—will be featured in the show. “Our goal is to create a world-class holiday experience that we hope will become a Southwest Florida family holiday tradition for years to come.”
Some of the acts audiences will see include: The Bone Breakers (acrobatic contortion); Ermiyas Muluken (freestanding ladder); Emma Clarke (aerial pole); Lianna Ashton (hula hoops); Tatiana & Veranica Tchalabaeva (dog act); Johnny Rockett (comedy); Daniel C. Minor (character actor); and Gena Cristiani and Josuber “Junior” Neves (juggling). Closing the show will be the thrilling high-wire act, starring Nik Wallenda, Erendira Wallenda, Blake Wallenda, Alec Bryant, and Daniela Prieto.
Wallenda is a current producer, partner, and visionary of the iconic Big Apple Circus in New York City. The legendary production has been a treasured holiday tradition for New Yorkers for 45 years, captivating millions with its world-class entertainment and enthralling performances.
“It’s been quite some time since I’ve had the opportunity to enjoy the holidays in my beloved hometown and I couldn’t think of a better way to spend them than to bring the joy we’ve been proud to share through the Big Apple Circus back home to our renowned circus town,” said Wallenda. “With ‘A Brave New Wonderland,’ I’m thrilled to collaborate with the Circus Arts Conservatory to bring my dream and vision to life, and create unforgettable holiday memories for the community that means so much to me.”
Showtimes vary, with matinees and evening performances on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays in November and December; once the school holiday break begins, additional performances will be presented twice a day. Ticket prices are $30-$75.
Presenting sponsor is Sunbelt Rentals. The 2023 Wonderland artwork was designed by local graphic artist Nathalie Michalowski. For more about the CAC, to view the “Wonderland” performance schedule and/or to purchase tickets, visit circusarts.org.
Main Image: A thrilling high wire act, featuring show co-presenter Nik Wallenda (middle), will close ‘A Brave New Wonderland’ Photo by Richard Czina Comedic daredevil Johnny Rockett will amaze and amuse audiences Veranica (upper right) and Tatiana Tchalabaeva (upper left) will present a dog act for ‘A Brave New Wonderland’ audiences Longtime Sailor Circus Academy star Emma Clarke (lower left) will perform on the aerial pole Freestanding ladder artist Ermiyas Muluken (lower right)
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