By Sheena Barnett/NEMS Daily Journal
The time of enjoying a circus from your seat is over. DJ Dean Kelley, a clown for Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey, hosts the pre-show for the circus’ production of “Barnum Bash,” playing at the BancorpSouth Arena this weekend. At the pre-show, Kelley lets circus fans get up close and personal with the performers and animals who make the circus the “greatest show on earth.”
“They can get autographs and pictures with everybody in the show,” Kelley said in a phone interview with the Daily Journal. “And one cool thing that we’ve never done before, we’ve opened up the backstage. You can take a tour before the show stars and look at all of the set pieces and look at the beautiful animals.”
The “Barnum Bash” is the ultimate circus experience, Kelley said.
“It’s the circus party of the century. We have elephants, horses and camels, and an incredible dog act. We have our thrills acts,” he said, including motorcycles and acrobats. “We have the World’s Strongest Man, the Mighty Dimitri. He can bend things right in half with his teeth. It’s incredible. It starts out at 100 and it doesn’t stop. It goes, goes, goes, goes.”
Kelley, a native of Kansas City, Kan., said he’s always been something of a clown, but now he gets paid to be goofy and make folks laugh.
“I wish we had somebody to do our make-up. We all do our own make-up. It takes me, to walk in as Dean the person and leave as Dean the clown, 30 minutes,” he said. “I’m a clown at heart. Even when I’m out with my friends, I’ll do some stupid things or act like a clown, like shoving a fork up my nose. (Being a clown) is in your heart, it’s not something you learn.”
Kelley wants to share his goofiness and the entire “Barnum Bash” experience with circus fans in Tupelo.
“I like to watch the audience, because we have a couple of parts in the show where I know the audience is gonna gasp because it’s so incredible. I like to look out in the audience and see how people react. I’m in a show where I can get a 3-year old, that 3-year old’s mom and dad and mom and dad’s mom and dad to gasp at the exact same thing,” he said. “I think that’s pretty powerful.”
The clown invites fans to the pre-show and backstage tour at the show so they can see how a circus like Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey works.
“It’s a one-ring show, so we can get the audience close,” he said. “It’s really cool. You can see the sweat on the brow of the acrobats, you’re that up close and personal.”
‘Greatest Show on Earth’
What: Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey presents “Barnum Bash”
When: 7 p.m. Today, 10:30 a.m. and 7 p.m. Friday, 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. Saturday, 3 p.m. Sunday
Where: BancorpSouth Arena
Cost: $35, $25, $20, $15, plus fees
Info: bcsarena.com or (662) 841-6528