Live Show Review: Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Over the Top!

(please note:  awesome discounted ticket information at bottom of page!)

Thanks to Mom Central, my family and I were able to attend Friday night’s show of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey:  Over the Top! at Houston’s Reliant Stadium.

Program_Cover_Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey:  Over the TopNo one in our family had ever been to the circus, and we were all set for a grand adventure!  We opted to leave our 22mo son with friends, and although I saw many brave souls at the circus with young, young children, I’m ultimately glad we did not bring him.  It was just so much easier to enjoy the massive spectacle without worrying over him. (fyi:  we had our four other children there, ages 15, 12, 11, and 8 )

We did not arrive early enough to meet the performers before the show, but make sure you check out the schedule for the Animal Open House or All Access Pre-Show (both free to all ticket holders), because it looks like a ton of fun!

When we did arrive, I was amazed at the carnival-like atmosphere at the Stadium.  There were games and picture booths and food stands and souvenirs.  Quick tip:  eat before you go, the food is *expensive.*  And stock up on dollar store glow necklaces – the lights go out several times during the show, and the kids will love to swirl their glow sticks around (but the ones they sell at the show are $20!).  Also, feel free to bring your camera.  They allow flash photography, but just ask that you do not SHARE pictures from the show, as it is copyrighted.

We settled into some GREAT seats (thanks again, Mom Central!) and the Ringmaster Chuck Wagnershow started.  One thing I did not expect was that the show is written as a story – it’s not simply “here’s this act,” and then “here’s another act.”  It was tied together with a kind of plot, dialogue, and some amazing singing.  In fact, our Ringmaster was Chuck Wagner, who originated the role of Rapunzel’s Prince in Broadway’s Into the Woods (one of our favorites!!), as well as the Beast in Broadway’s Beauty and the Beast, and the dual role of Jekyll & Hyde on Broadway.  That is some SERIOUS talent!  We were so excited that someone we’ve listened to and loved from Broadway was there to perform!

Sprinkled throughout the show were some unbelievable acts.  The elephants, the horses and their trick riders, the acrobats, the trapeze artisits, and so much more!  I hardly knew where to look, so much was going on and I didn’t want to miss a thing!  Our absolute FAVORITE of the night was the Steel Ball with seven – seven! – motorcycles speeding around inside.  The riders are all from the incredible Torres Family, and they had us gasping and shrieking and covering our eyes!  I laugh to think what we must have looked like through most of the show; honestly, we were on the edge of our seats for much of the time.  There were a few slower moments where I think some of the plot got lost on the audience (maybe some humor that was just not as “funny” as intended), but overall we were totally engaged and loving it.

One final tip for your post-circus experience:  bring a snack, a drink, and some ibuprofin in your car.  It’s a long show, and we did find ourselves very hungry and a little overstimulated by all the sights and sounds.  That, and it’s likely to be a very busy parking lot you’re trying to get out of, so planning ahead doesn’t hurt.

The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Over the Top! show continues in Houston through July 26, then moves on to other cities in Texas before moving out of state by late August.  CHECK HERE for the complete tour schedule.

To receive a significant discount on tickets for the remaining Houston shows, do the following:

Get 4 tickets for $44 by entering the code “MOM” in the MC promotion code box on Ticketmaster.  Minimum purchase of 4 tickets required; additional tickets above 4 can be purchased at $11 each.  Offer not valid on Circus Celebrity, Front Row, or VIP Seating.  Cannot be combined with other offers.  Service charges and handling fees WILL APPLY.

  • Jen

    Thanks for the summary. We have plans to go on Wednesday with the Larsens and are glad to hear such a good report

  • Jen

    Thanks for the summary. We have plans to go on Wednesday with the Larsens and are glad to hear such a good report

  • Jennie

    Awesome! Now we’re even MORE excited to go…and thanks for the heads up on glow sticks and snacks in the car!

  • Jennie

    Awesome! Now we’re even MORE excited to go…and thanks for the heads up on glow sticks and snacks in the car!

  • We went to the circus on Friday and we took our 14 month old and 24 month old and although it was difficult to carry them up and down the stairs, I must give HUGE kudos to the stafff. I have honestly never attended a show where the staff was so friendly and helpful. Someone escorted us to and from our seats with our double stroller by taking us through elevators and we even got to hear history of the stadium and walk through the Texans tunnel. I won tickets from another blog but none of them knew that, they were so nice to everyone. I agree that the gadgets were waaay pricey and so was the food. My tip for anyone taking small kids? Bring their booster seats. We did and it kept them in their seats and they could see! lol Maybe I should do a blog post.

  • We went to the circus on Friday and we took our 14 month old and 24 month old and although it was difficult to carry them up and down the stairs, I must give HUGE kudos to the stafff. I have honestly never attended a show where the staff was so friendly and helpful. Someone escorted us to and from our seats with our double stroller by taking us through elevators and we even got to hear history of the stadium and walk through the Texans tunnel. I won tickets from another blog but none of them knew that, they were so nice to everyone. I agree that the gadgets were waaay pricey and so was the food. My tip for anyone taking small kids? Bring their booster seats. We did and it kept them in their seats and they could see! lol Maybe I should do a blog post.

  • Wow, am I tired much? Maybe I should go to bed. I don’t even know how old my own kids are rofl. They are 14 months and 26 months old, not 24 months, actually almost 15 months and 27 months at the end of this month. Time flies! ol Off to bed before I forget my name.

  • Wow, am I tired much? Maybe I should go to bed. I don’t even know how old my own kids are rofl. They are 14 months and 26 months old, not 24 months, actually almost 15 months and 27 months at the end of this month. Time flies! ol Off to bed before I forget my name.

  • Rachel

    Glad to see you all had a good time. We went to see this last fall here in Portland – brought the one-year-old – and he still sat through it. We too loved the motorcycles. And yes I agree about the overstimulating part. 🙂

    I thought i’d signed up for your new feed but I guess not. Wow, you’ve been a busy blogger!

  • Rachel

    Glad to see you all had a good time. We went to see this last fall here in Portland – brought the one-year-old – and he still sat through it. We too loved the motorcycles. And yes I agree about the overstimulating part. 🙂

    I thought i’d signed up for your new feed but I guess not. Wow, you’ve been a busy blogger!