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Review: ‘American Experience’ runs away with ‘The Circus’

The best circus I ever saw, the Sailor Circus, took place under a tent in the parking lot or maybe the athletic field of Sarasota High School. It was performed exclusively by kids — little kids, bigger kids, teenagers – but was a full-on big top experience, with sawdust and a calliope, acrobats and aerialists. It was pure and thrilling and beautiful. Sarasota, Fla., where I went to college for a while, was where the last two of the five Ringling brothers famously built their homes and for many years parked their circus. My college, in fact, was located half on the grounds of Charles Ringling’s estate, its library located in what had been his pink marble mansion. Brother John’s more fanciful place, right next door, was a tourist attraction.