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All Human-Powered, All Fun: The Venardos Circus Is Coming to Town

An engaging and awe-inspiring family evening awaits under the big top

Nikki McCoy

Published on: June 21, 2023

The cast of the Venardos Circus an all human-powered circus (no animals) headed by former Ringling Bros ringmaster Kevin Venardos cast photos shows current 2022 tour performers
Eric Forrest

From the humorous antics of the house clown to the heart-stopping feats of daredevils flying through the air, every act in the Venardos Circus show is engaging and awe-inspiring.

Returning to Tacoma this summer, the Venardos Circus is a family night out you should not miss. Get your tickets now for this marvelous show playing at Tacoma’s STAR Center July 7–23, 2023.

Human circus performers

Dreamed up by former Ringling Bros. Ringmaster Kevin Venardos, this circus brings the nostalgia and mystique of the bygone days of early circuses and propels them into the 21st century. We appreciated the modern themes and a non-animal performance policy (except for the pre-show flea circus). Our family loved that we could enjoy a high-quality show without funding the expense of a forlorn elephant or a post-retirement-age caged tiger.

At the show we attened, I noticed an educational component in the recurring theme of song and dance as well. Kevin Venardos belted out in Broadway-show fashion that it takes hard work and determination to follow your dreams — even if bullies tell you you’ll never make it.

circus view from little girl
An aerialist performs with the Venardos Circus. Credit: Nikki McCoy

Once the show started, I realized I had stopped taking notes and photos because I was mesmerized by what was happening on the stage. “It’s like watching ‘America’s Got Talent!’” exclaimed my 10-year-old as we witnessed a mother and daughter duo flip through the air in unison while holding one another in an embrace.

I gave a quick glance over at my teen, who was standing at the back of the classic red-and-white-striped big top tent; I was expecting to see his head bent over his phone, but instead, he was clapping and laughing as spotlights swept over the crowd.

Along for the adventure was a 7-year-old family friend, and she could not have been grinning harder as trapeze artists twirled through hoops and aerial silks above her head — upon which was perched a blinking unicorn headband, courtesy of the Venardos souvenir shop.

Venardos Circus hand balance performers perform a balancing feat all human no animal circus visiting Tacoma, Washington, summer 2022
A hand balance pair perform with the Venardos Circus. Image courtesy Venardos Circus

Personal touch

At intermission, Ringmaster Kevin joined the crowd outside the tent, and his rhinestone-plastered tailcoat and top hat dazzled in the evening Tacoma sun. I overheard him telling a guest that the house-made lemonade is concocted with just the right amount of sugar and its pink color comes from beet juice.

A seemingly small gesture, this kind of thoughtfulness and attention to detail enlivened every moment of the performance. As we filed back into the tent, I realized just how intimate the setting really was, and even the seats farthest from the stage provided good views of the performers.

Another cool thing was that the performers hailed from around the world, which was a nice discussion topic for our group on the drive home. Many of them were family — from a mother-son extreme juggling duo to a family of three acrobats, the daughter not much older than 10.

All in all, I found the Venardos Circus a fantastic all-ages family show. Snacks were limited to popcorn, pretzels and (classic!) cotton candy, so it’s worth eating dinner before you head to the show. (Though I would’ve been fine with just a vat of their house-made cheese sauce.)

Everything about the Venardos Circus exudes magic. The anticipation begins the moment you buy your tickets online, then flows to dinner table conversation leading up to the performance, and then finally peaks under the big top as you wait for the show to begin.

If you go...

Where: For this run, the Venardos Circus sets up its big top outside Tacoma’s STAR Center, at 3873 S. 66th Street in Tacoma.

When: Shows take place Wednesday–Sunday each week, July 7–23, 2023, with three show times on weekend days.

Doors open for pre-show festivities one hour prior to published showtime. You can meet the cast, snap selfies and play games. If you don’t make it early, an intermission and post-show are other opportunities to meet the performers. Note: The big top tent is waterproof, and rain or shine, the show will go on!

Cost: General admission tickets $27.95 for teens and adults; tickets for kids ages 1–12 cost $16.95; babies under 1 year are free with the purchase of an adult ticket. Buy tickets online

More South Sound-area fun:

Editor’s note: ParentMap originally reviewed this show when it came to town in 2019. Show dates and ticket prices have been updated for 2023.

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