Families : Circus Troupe Gets Audience Into Act


The judge is an octopus, the lawyer is--what else--a shark, and a killer whale sings the blues because the groupers laugh at his tutu. These eccentrics are part of San Francisco’s 21-year-old, one-ring Make-A-Circus, touring Southland parks with its crowd-pleasing, kid-friendly combination of offbeat comedy theater, circus stunts, audience involvement and live jazz.

The troupe is performing its three-hour, free family show Saturday at Chapparosa Park in Laguna Niguel and Sunday at Rennette Park in El Cajon.

The Make-A-Circus formula: troupe members put on a scripted comedy filled with circus derring-do and high jinks, take a break and teach audience members of all ages a few rudiments of juggling, tumbling, pyramid building and stilt-walking, then they pop the new performers into a second scripted “community” show.

Everybody gets into the act in this year’s second show, “Water World,” about a greedy developer who builds an underwater shopping mall/amusement park and is put on trial by angry sea creatures.


“All the children in the workshops get to be different animals living on the coral reef,” said artistic director Peggy Ford. There are “dolphins, dancing shrimps, spider crabs on stilts . . . and then we have a big ring dance where we invite the whole audience to come up and celebrate the end of the day with us,” Ford said.

Audience participation is part of the first company show, too. “Pirates!” is about shipwrecked buccaneers who try “to scrape up a new crew” at the circus, according to writer/director Drew Letchworth.

* Make-A-Circus appears Saturday at Chapparosa Park, Chapparosa Park Road off Golden Lantern, Laguna Niguel. 12:30 p.m. Free. (714) 362-4350. Also Sunday at Rennette Community Park, 935 S. Emerald Ave., El Cajon. 12:30 p.m. Free. (415) 776-8470.