ESCONDIDO — The magic of Circus Vargas has returned to take guests momentarily far away from their North County lives to experience the wonders of Paris.
With this year’s “Bonjour Paris” theme, the show tells the story of a circus beginning its world tour with its first stop in the City of Light (and City of Love).
The 2-hour show offers a variety of music, dancing, acrobats and other thrills throughout the Parisian themed set under the big top in an intimate, one-ring setting.
“People will really see the quality of entertainment we have,” said Community Outreach Director Rolanda Kaiser. “Our performers are all top-notch.”
This year’s show stars Johnathan Lee Iverson as the Ringmaster, who acts as the voice and face of the circus as he leads the show.
Iverson is a professionally trained singer who began his career at a young age as a member of The Boys Choir of Harlem.
After graduating from The Hartt School of the University of Hartford, at 22 years old Iverson became the youngest, the first New Yorker and the first Black American ringmaster in the nearly 150-year-old Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus.
Iverson, who joined Circus Vargas in January as both the ringmaster and performance director, said the circus offers audience members, cast members and stage crew alike a chance to share in a common sense of humanity.
“When you think about how polarized the country is right now, especially around the topic of immigration, the show is timely by introducing the idea of venturing outside of the borders of the United States in a fanciful way,” Iverson said. “Within our imaginations, going abroad and experiencing and enjoying another culture and people with people from various nations – even within our circus organization – is a wonderful seed to plant in the mind of the audience and gives them a sense of common humanity.”
Circus Vargas was first founded in 1969 by Clifford E. Vargas who wanted to bring back the big top tent circus idea from his childhood. Kaiser said the circus has been visiting Escondido since before Vargas’s death in 1989.
The circus stopped using animals in its acts in 2010 and remains animal-free.
Kaiser said the “fun and lighthearted show” has been a great experience for audience members who have already seen it.
“Everyone who watches the show leaves feeling happy,” Kaiser said. “I think we could all use something more inspiring, more entertaining like this show.”
Circus Vargas is located at the North County Mall in Escondido until March 20 with shows every day except Tuesday. The circus will move on to Temecula between March 24 and April 10. For tickets and showtimes, visit circusvargas.com.