Come one, come all — it’s time once again to meet ringmaster Mr. B.S. Swindler under the big top.
The Great Mr. Swindle’s Traveling Peculiarium and Drink-Ory Garden is a circus-based fantasy show created in the minds of Englewood residents Allison Blei and Ivan España, who comes from a family of high-flying stunt artists, dubbed “The Flying Españas.” The family was recently inducted to the Circus Ring of Fame in Sarasota’s St. Armand’s circle, marking their significant contributions to the art and culture of circus amongst many other incredible icons such as P.T. Barnum and The Ringling Brothers.
Blei and España’s company, Salto Entertainment, first presented their own unique show last year to rave reviews. This year, the performances will take place in Englewood, from Jan. 10-20 and in Punta Gorda, from Feb. 20-26.
Blei said that she and her partner have been producing shows together since 2010.
“We’ve done everything from big shows in tents to motorcycle shows,” she said. “When we were traveling around the world performing, we came up with the concept for this one.”
The ringmaster and star of Mr. Swindle’s Traveling Peculiarium is Mr. B.S. Swindler, who is based on the real-life P.T. Barnum. The background story is that Mr. Swindler has also traveled around the world, and has gathered some “mysterious wonders,” which he has brought back home to show to incredulous audiences.
Besides Mr. Swindle, there are 10 additional characters who will perform in the 90-minute exhibition of classic vintage amusement, live acrobatics and comedy.
“When you sit inside the Peculiarium you can feel yourself being delivered rearward in time to a turn-of-the-century traveling spectacle,” Blei said. “It’s very physical, and there’s nothing else to really compare it to — it’s an old-fashioned traveling show.”
One hour before the performance, guests are invited into Dr. Elixir’s Drink-Ory Garden, where they can both enjoy savory snacks, potent potions and enticing elixirs and have a chance to meet a few of the interesting characters in Mr. Swindle’s world. Beer, wine, non-alcoholic beverages, and snacks such as hot dogs, popcorn and nachos will be available for sale.
The size of the Peculiarium, or tent, provides an intimate setting with close proximity to the world-class performers. Each of the Southwest Florida show sites seat only about 300 people, making the venues truly “Boutique Big Tops.”
Blei said that throwback, interactive atmosphere is just what she and España were hoping to achieve.
“That’s the way we wanted it — to keep it small and intimate,” she said. “This is an entertaining show for people of all ages, and I can promise there will be a lot of laughter.”