After a six-year hiatus, the “Greatest Show on Earth” will return in fall 2023. Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey will return next year with a major difference from the last time audiences saw it: All the performers will be human. The show also apparently won’t be billing itself as a circus.
“As passionate stewards of Ringling, we are committed to creating a lifestyle brand that connects with families and sparks real fun 365 days a year through live performances, digital content, consumer products, school curricula, youth circus arts programs, and more,” chairman and CEO Kenneth Feld said in a statement. “We are innovating all aspects of the live show and modernizing the franchise to create an engaging property that is built for today’s families and will last for another 150 years.”
The Ringling Bros. circus began in 1871 and merged with Barnum & Bailey in 1919. Feld shut the “Greatest Show on Earth” down in 2017 after a decline in ticket sales linked to animal welfare concerns. The three-ring circus stopped using elephants the year prior and now will return without big cats or other animal acts. In their place, the act will feature new technologies and a 360-degree experience designed to foster more audience interaction with the performers.
“We’ve spent countless hours conducting research, speaking with consumers and scouting for talent all over the globe to deliver an experience unlike any other,” COO Juliette Field Grossman said. “The audience will surround the performance space, and connect in a more meaningful way,” she told CBS MoneyWatch.
After rehearsals next summer, the “Greatest Show on Earth” will embark on a 50-city tour of the U.S. in September 2023. Tickets will go on sale in April.
PETA has given the show its blessing, telling MoneyWatch that “PETA is cheering on the animal-free revamp.”