Send in the Clowns

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Want a dash of sideshow with your circus? The Bindlestiff Family Cirkus Summer Variety Tour is the most fun we've had at the circus in a long time. It's a daredevil's delight for all ages in an intimate setting that harkens back to vaudeville days.

With inventive twists (literally) on tightrope walking, trapeze-swinging, and juggling, this is a circus where you are close enough to see the performers sweat--which really counts when you're watching Mr. Pennygaff's sword-swallowing routine! The kids in the audience squeal with delight as he drives that point home, while grown-ups writhe in horror.

Add magic tricks from one very blasé blue bunny (Scotty), amazing feats with spinning tops, and some hyper-physics-induced gyrations with hula hoops and you have a hit with the kid-set.

There was humor for the grown-ups too--of the bawdy kind. One stunt involved a surprised volunteer from the audience, a long-stemmed rose and Philomena's whip-cracking talents.

We caught the Bindlestiff's show at their stop at Bard SummerScape in Annandale-on-Hudson, NY, where tickets were $5 for kids and $15 for adults. (Ticket prices will vary slightly at different venues.) They are scheduled to hit towns in Maine, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Maryland and Virginia in July. For upcoming tour dates and venues, check out their website at

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