Circus Oz ‘cranks up’ visual feast for community

CIRCUS Oz isn’t just a visual feast for the eyes, as Sarah Lim finds out at this year’s premiere. The high-flying circus ensemble is setting aside tickets for communities including asylum seekers to give them a chance to feel welcomed and loved in Australia.


The ensemble cast of Circus Oz. Photo: Rob Blackburn

Circus Oz truly cranked up their performances in this year’s acts, which opened on June 20 at the Big Top in Birrarung Marr. All the audience’s favourite acts from last year’s From The Ground Up were revisited with added humour and daring attempts at the impossible.


Mark Sheppard rockin’ in his role. Photo: Rob Blackburn

The emcee for the show was newcomer Mark Sheppard, an Indigenous cowboy who rocked his leather chaps and belted out a good tune. He taught the attentive crowd how to speak his native language and led the people through a story about the blending of cultures in this land down under.

All the gravity-defying stunts from last year’s show returned, such as the trapeze and the teeterboard, which included a variety of even more jaw-dropping backflips, twists, and jumps. The drum tumble, which included band performer Bec Matthews and acrobat Shane Witt, was also brought back in all its cymbal-clanging and awe-inspiring glory.


Performing on the teeterboard. Photo: Rob Blackburn

One of the most memorable performances, and a clear favourite of the audience, was the rollerblading exercise regime from the ever comical Fantaysia Fitness, played by Flip Kammerer. This time, she had her son Tay Tay (Kai Johnson-Peady) with her, resulting in more hilarious moments where she showcased her methods for losing body fat and keeping fit. All her trademark statements such as ‘totes co’, which means ‘totally coordinated’, were rehashed in perfect comedic timing.


Juggling the table using her feet! Photo: Rob Blackburn

There was an added juggling act by Hazel Bock, who impressed the crowd with her ability to juggle six red balls, and then a square table, using her feet! She also played the trumpet alongside the talented live band led by musical director Carl Polke, where instruments such as the tuba, saxophone, drums, piano and electric guitar were all heard during different segments of the show.

Midway through the show, the 35th birthday of Circus Oz was acknowledged in speeches given by company chair Wendy McCarthy and artistic director Mike Finch. It was a proud moment for many to witness the continuous success of the company, not just locally but internationally.

It was also announced that Circus Oz was setting aside more tickets to give away to a variety of communities, including the asylum seekers, in order to give them a chance to feel “welcomed and loved for the first time since they set foot in Australia”.


Jez Davies and his juggling act. Photo: Rob Blackburn

The experience of watching Circus Oz perform is thus not only a feast for the eyes, but also adds moments for the heart to enjoy and understsand what it feels like to be part of a big and crazy multicultural family.

Circus Oz’s Cranked Up is now showing at the Circus Oz Big Top in Melbourne until July 14. Ticket prices are from $24 to $92. To book tickets, visit the Ticketmaster website or call 136 100. For more information on the show, visit the Circus Oz website.

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