Illustration by Lein & Tai Uong

The 27th version of New York's homegrown one-ring circus, Picturesque, has moments of jaw-dropping loveliness, especially from female hand balancer Mei Ling. It takes inspiration from masterworks of visual art with circus themes by Renoir, Degas, Toulouse-Lautrec, Calder, Chagall, and Picasso. Some references may be lost on the younger set, who seem to prefer Grandma the clown (pardon, Grandoir, a/k/a Barry Lubin, who wields a third leg as part of a cancan line) to the powerfully muscled acrobats and trapeze artists, but the grown-ups lap everything up, including clown commentary on a stuffy ringside art lecture.

Comedy and acrobats are both high and low; world peace and hilarity are served by Svetlana Shamsheeva's animal act, in which birds, cats, and dogs amiably share the spotlight. The band plays Gershwin as well as original tunes by Michael Valenti, Scott Sena, and Brian Taylor. Jonathan Stuart Cerullo choreographs escapees from Degas and Toulouse-Lautrec canvases, and Yasmine Smart shows off the most beautiful horses' asses you've ever seen—they have checkerboard fade haircuts. Picaso Jr. (that's not a typo!) juggles fusillades of Ping-Pong balls with his breath! Cheer yourself up. Get there.

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