For more than a century, it’s been called " The Greatest Show on Earth ," but the circus opening in central Iowa tonight is a modern performance re-designed for the new millennium.
Sure, there are still lions, tigers and elephants, but gone is the three-ring venue in exchange for more of a high-tech stage performance.
Jennifer Fuentes (photo) carries the title Songstress of the Circus and says they’ve incorporated a storyline where a family is pulled out of the audience and thrown into the show. Fuentes says: "I change the father into a ringmaster, the mother into an aerialist, the daughter wants to be a dancer, but the youngest boy, the little son of the family, doesn’t know what he wants to be. That’s where the storyline/plot derives from and weaves in and out of the acts from the hat juggling to the Kossack horse riders to the elephant act and he’s trying to figure out what he wants to become in the Circus of Dreams."
Fuentes says it aims to teach kids in the audience that anything they dream can be achieved. "It’s a really great message we’re sending out to kids now that they’ve incorporated this storyline and a huge video screen, " she says, "you could be sitting anywhere in this arena and not miss any highlights of the show. You’ll see the sweat dripping off Hercules’ forehead and you’ll be right up in the Globe of Death. It’s a spectacular event. You’re going to be blown away because it’s different and you’re in for a treat."
Fuentes is a 23-year-old Florida native who Iowans may recognize as a finalist from the second season of T-V’s "American Idol." She says her experience on that show helped prepare her for the "show of shows" with the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus. "Before ‘American Idol,’ I was just waiting tables and bartending and going to school and freelancing, "Fuentes says, "these auditions came up, I got on the boardwalk and lined up with everyone else to get ready. I made it to the top 30 out of 60,000 people. I can’t complain. It was an awesome experience. I got to go to Hollywood."
While she entered the "Idol" contest with dreams of making a living as a singer, Fuentes never envisioned being the star of a traveling circus — though she’s now in her third year with the troupe. She says: "The circus brought me even more experiences that have been amazing, singing for the White House and getting to be a spokesperson for Ringling. That’s the coolest part, just getting to talk about ‘Come and see, these people are amazing.’ I really love my job. It’s exciting."
The circus is offering six shows through Sunday at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines. It’ll also be in Sioux City on October 12-14.