We had the opportunity to do an email interview with Johnathon Lee Iverson, the Ringmaster of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus – coming to town this weekend on Jan 23-25, 2015 at Bridgestone Arena. Tickets are still available. Visit Ringling.com for more information.
We asked you what you wanted to know about the circus and here are the answers.
How many hours do the performers practice?
It various depending on the discipline.
How many stops are on the tour?
Between 45-48 cities a year.
How long does set up and break down take?
On average I would say 8-12 hours.
How many months of the year do you travel and perform? Where do the animals go during ‘down time’?
We perform and travel 11 months a year.
Is it monotonous to be “on” for every show?
There’s no such thing as a boring day at The Greatest Show On Earth. The show is made new with each new audience and each new city. Also, it’s live entertainment. You can expect the unexpected.
How do people travel between shows (buses or trains)?
We travel aboard The Great American Circus Train. Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey was the first to put their show on the rails.
How do the animals travel between shows?
By train, truck and trailer.
Do performers perform multiple duties?
Indeed, we not only perform, some of us help set up and break down the show. Many, especially myself represent the show in the press. Clowns visit Children’s Hospitals, myself and others visit schools and after school programs.
Is there more than one Ringmaster, in the event you get sick?
I do have an understudy.
Do people really run away and join the circus, or do the performers come from long lines of family in the circus?
There are three kinds of people who venture into circus life: 1. Circus babies – they’re born into the life and often take to it and pass it along to their children. 2. Runaways – these are the people via a compulsion finds themselves drawn to The Greatest Show On Earth, usually at an early age and set their mind to join. 3. Opportunist – these are the people who essentially stumble into the life via an ad or chance visit, etc.
Can the children meet the performers after the show?
Children Of All Ages meet the performers 1 hour before the show in our All Access Pre Show which is included in your ticket purchase.
What is the best part about being a Ringmaster?
Being Ringmaster! It’s a privilege to be the voice of this American icon. The longest running hit show in history.
What is the hardest part of your job?
Morning shows! No one should have to perform before 1pm.
How did you become a Ringmaster?
I was literally in the right place at the right time. I was invited to audition following an audition for a dinner theater. Unbeknownst to me the director of the dinner theater, was also directing The Greatest Show On Earth. The rest is history.