Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, step right up to the magical and mysterious world of “Magikaria!”
Circus Vargas greeted audiences with magic, illusions and death-defying feats as performers debuted “Magikaria, A Fantastical Magical Experience!” Thursday night under a bright blue and gold big-top tent near the Save Mart Center.
The animal-free show, which will remain in Fresno through Monday, doesn’t have a strict storyline, but rather an overarching theme of magic and mystery.
Circus host Jon Weiss said the word “Magikaria” aims to describe the “air of magic” that is found inside the big top.
As the handmade European-style tent echoed with applause and gasps of amazement throughout the night, it became clear that audience members indeed felt a sense of enchantment.
All in all, Circus Vargas is a real, authentic-style circus with a modern twist.
While the show has all of the features of a traditional circus—clowns, a ringmaster and dance numbers worthy of Broadway—it also delivers a number of high-tech acts.
Yet, the show is still able to give viewers a sense of old-fashioned fun. It’s the best of both worlds.
But Nelson Quiroga, owner and producer of Circus Vargas, said it is the show’s interactive nature that really gets the crowd going.
“It’s very intimate, very family oriented and very interactive,” he said. “We interact with people the moment they come into the door.”
It’s true. Patrons were welcomed into the tent as if they were visiting someone’s home. Staff members greeted each audience member with a smile as they walked over the threshold and into the ambiance of the big top.
But the interaction didn’t stop there. It continued throughout the entire night.
Patrick Gable, the show’s illusionist, led the audience into a trance as he performed a number of extravagant magic-themed acts.
Traditional circus acts included the low wire by Miguel Ferreri, an intricate and elegant aerial silk act by Danielle España and a high-flying trapeze number by The Flying Tabares, a troupe of aerialists from Argentina.
During their performance, members of The Flying Tabares leaped through the air with ease and grace as they executed what seemed to be endless sets of synchronized somersaults and spirals.
Promoted as “trapeze royalty” by the show’s program bill, the acrobatic aerialists soared through the tent’s atmosphere as if they were more comfortable in the air than on the ground.
Before Quiroga and his wife, Katya, purchased Circus Vargas in 2005 and founded the production company Tabares Entertainment, Inc., both entrepreneurs performed for The Flying Tabares.
Quiroga stopped performing with the group about a year ago after a 25-year trapeze career, but Katya still performs.
The show also features a number of off-the-wall acts such as “The Human Rocket,” which involves performer Leo Garcia being launched from a 20-foot rocket across the big top at 55 mph. Needless to say, the act is sure to leave members of the audience biting their nails.
Another daredevil act included the ominous-sounding “Thunder Globe.” During this fast-paced performance, motorcyclists in LED-lit suits raced around inside a rounded metal cage, seeming to defy all laws of gravity.
Thirty minutes before the show, Circus Vargas gave audience members a rare opportunity to meet some of the cast of “Magikaria” and receive hands-on circus training.
During the interactive preshow, Weiss welcomed children of all ages into the ring and taught them some basic circus skills.
Weiss, who claims he can balance “almost anything” (and he really can), said he likes to teach kids the art of balancing.
“We teach them how to balance a peacock feather, and then, when they learn how to do that, I come out and do some more difficult balancing,” he said.
In addition to hosting the preshow, Weiss also performed as “The Great Jon Weiss-crack” along with “Magical Matti,” whose offstage name is Matti Esqueda, in a joke-fueled clown act between each performance. The acts provide a distraction for the crew as they are setting up the next performance.
For Weiss, the circus is a place where people can leave their problems at the door and have fun. The circus, he said, is about creating smiles, memories and a sense of enjoyment for people.
“To be able to do that on a daily basis—to create a laughter when maybe there wasn’t a laughter for a day, or a week, or a month, or a year—it’s a huge thing for a performer, and I cherish that,” he said. “I think that’s one of the reasons why the circus is so unique.”
Weiss said the show comprises about 36 performers who are from around the world, including countries such as Italy, Spain, Germany, Kenya, Russia, Argentina, Mexico, Bulgaria, Peru and the United States.
Quiroga said each member of Circus Vargas was hand selected with the idea of creating a “family group” in mind.
“We’re always looking not only for good acts, but for good people,” he said.
No one has just one role at Circus Vargas, either. Weiss said everyone helps complete various tasks to make the show a reality.
“We all get our hands dirty, and, you know, there’s a lot to be said about that because it’s a very small community we live in here,” he said.
Because everyone works and lives side by side, Weiss said there is no segregation between anyone who is a part of the Circus Vargas family, including the show’s owners.
“They’re right in the trenches with us, so it makes for a really, really nice environment,” he said. “We’re all here for a common goal and that’s to create a great show for the public.”
Tickets are available online at www.circusvargas.com or can be purchased at the door for $20 to $65.