The circus is coming to town! Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus presents Legends is coming to the XL Center this weekend, and big cat trainer Alexander Lacey took us inside the show when he spoke with Gina J. Find out what to expect from the Greatest Show on Earth!
It’s always an exciting time when the circus returns to Connecticut, and Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus presents Legends, which hits the XL Center in Hartford May 8th through 11th, will be one of the best shows ever! Big cat trainer Alexander Lacey shares in the excitement.
“Everybody enjoys the circus, especially Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey,” he told Gina J. “It’s a very modern style show, but at the heart of it, it’s traditional family entertainment.”
With a wide variety of thrilling acts, there is always something going on and something new to look at during the show. And there’s something for everyone, too! “There’s lots of pretty girls for the dads, handsome guys for the moms, and clowns and elephants for the kids,” Lacey joked.
Lacey works with the lions and tigers in the show, the 11th generation of lions and 9th generation of tigers raised by his family. “I’ve had all of them since they were babies,” he recalled. “My big male lion, Masai, I had him since he was about 3 pounds. He now weights 750 pounds,. I bottle fed him and he lived in the home with me.”
“Once he got to about 6 months old, he started to rip the place to pieces,” he laughed. “I went through too many pairs of shoes, so we kicked him out.”
Currently, Lacey trains 16 cats total– there are 12 in the show, and 4 more in training. The cast of cats is a true family affair, and Lacey commits to each and every one of them throughout their lives… even when they retire from performing. “When the cats get old, we don’t say you’re no use to us and get rid of them,” he explained. “Every cat stays with us from the moment they open their eyes to the moment they close their eyes for the last time. At some point in their lives, we give the cats the opportunity to reproduce, and the cubs work alongside the parents. We make the routine much easier for the older cats, and the young ones take over and work beside the moms and dads.”
The trainer spends so much time with his cats, he can tell if they’re in a good mood or a bad mood, and he can leave a cat out of the show if he feels it would be best for the performance and his animal. There’s no guarantee how many cats will be in each performance, and he believes it’s a luxury to be able to choose the most willing and excited cats for every show. This helps to avoid any potential dangerous situations, and he does it by trying to be more clever than his cats.
For Lacey, the circus is a job like no other, and he loves it. “It’s a life choice, it’s not a job,” he said. “I have very good friends born in the circus and love it, and I have some friends that are born in the circus and decide to run away, because they don’t like the traveling.”
Like other Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus shows, Legends will offer a special pre-show, which lets fans go backstage and meet the performers, right from the arena floor. You can get autographs, and even win a painting done by one of the circus’ elephants! This pre-show is free with any admission to the circus, and it takes place an hour before the actual show begins.
Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus presents Legends performs at the XL Center from May 8th through 11th. Click Here for more information on how you can see the Greatest Show on Earth!
–Bill Sencio, 96.5 TIC/ Hartford