Members of the Cossack Riders perform during a showing of the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus at Eagle Bank Arena April 14, 2017 in Fairfax, Virginia.(Photo credit BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus began in the 19th century, but it will broadcast its final on the most 21st century of channels: Facebook Live.
The final performance of the “Greatest Show on Earth” on May 21 at the newly renovated Nassau Coliseum will be streamed live on the social media network and on the circus website, the company told The Associated Press this week.
Earlier this year, Feld Entertainment, the producer of the iconic circus, announced that it was closing up its circus tent for good in May after 146 years of thrilling audiences.
The circus’s decline happened due to a variety of factors. Declining attendance, combined with high operating costs, changing public tastes and prolonged battles with rights groups all contributed to its demise.
The circus will be at the arena in Uniondale for 16 performances from May 12-21. Tickets for the final show are sold out.
The circus, with its exotic animals, flashy costumes and death-defying acrobats, has been a staple of entertainment in the United States since the mid-1800s. Phineas Taylor Barnum made a traveling spectacle of animals and human oddities popular, while the five Ringling brothers performed juggling acts and skits from their home base in Wisconsin. Eventually, they merged and the modern circus was born. The sprawling troupes traveled around America by train, wowing audiences with the sheer scale of entertainment and exotic animals.
The Feld family bought the Ringling circus in 1967. The show was just under 3 hours then. Today, the show is 2 hours and 7 minutes, with the longest segment — a tiger act — clocking in at 12 minutes