Circus 1903: US ringmaster’s shock act inside Sydney restaurant

A star circus ringleader from the US said he was scolded by a waiter in a Sydney restaurant for bringing a puppet ferret into the establishment.

Comedian and award-winning magician David Williamson is currently starring as ringmaster ‘Willy Whipsnade’ in the high-octane Circus 1903 — now running at the Sydney Opera House after a global tour with sell out seasons in Los Angeles, New York, a Las Vegas residency and on London’s West End.

The thrilling show is a homage to the circuses of a bygone era in which everyday objects become fantastical, and it features giant puppet elephants — Queenie and her adorable calf Peanut — to boot.

Queenie and Peanut weren’t the only fake animals to appear.

In a performance on Friday afternoon, Williamson invited four children on stage before pulling out a hilariously uncooperative raccoon — made from a spring — and chaos ensued.

During the skit, Williamson said he had been out for dinner at a nearby Sydney restaurant with the Circus 1903 crew. He said he had taken the ‘raccoon’ with him for a laugh.

He said he was pretending to feed the puppet at the restaurant when the waiter sternly reminded him he should not have “live animals in the venue”.

Williamson said he told the waiter “okay then” before demonstrating to the audience what he did next — and smashed the puppet’s head on a table with a killer blow. Adults in the audience could be heard cackling while the children onstage appeared bewildered by the savage joke.

A feast for the senses

It wasn’t all laughs and cute puppets at Circus 1903 — which is currently playing at the Sydney Opera House until December 29. There were some ridiculously death-defying acts from a talented international cast that made your heart skip a beat.

There was an outstanding ‘bike ballet’ from artistic cycling champion David Schnabel which defied all conventional logic and adrenaline-inducing aerial performances including one from Elena Suarez Pariente (Spain) who performed artistry suspended above the crowd with nothing but her hair.

Juggler Francois Borie (France) was also a standout. His tricks with basketballs and hats made a juggling cynic such as myself take notice.

The stars of the show though, according to my bleary-eyed three-year-old fresh from daycare, were the magnificent African elephant puppets that roamed the stage and performed tricks.

Williamson, meanwhile, kept the illusion of a 1903 circus alive with his unbridled charisma and hilariously humiliated unsuspecting parents hauled to the stage by their kids.

It was a feast for the senses that somehow managed to entertain my toddler and me in equal measure — and might just make you want to make you run off an join the circus.

The show will also appear at Arts Centre Melbourne, State Theatre, from January 4-14, 2024.

Event details

What: Circus 1903

When: 21 – 29 December 2023

Where: Concert Hall, Sydney Opera House

Price: From $79.00 + booking fee

Read related topics:Sydney

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