Taylor Albin loves the circus, and he has seen more than his share of circuses. He's especially enthused about "Circus Xtreme."
"This show, the title is 'Circus Xtreme,' and a lot of people are like, 'What does this mean?,' " Albin said. "It means a lot of things. This show is amazing. It's fast-paced and non-stop."
Albin's voice is fast-paced too as he extols the show.
He's an upbeat kind of guy anyway, otherwise he wouldn't be the "boss clown" for "Circus Xtreme," which is the newest show from The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus.
The show has its world premiere this weekend at the Amalie Arena in Tampa. It opens New Year's Day and runs through the weekend, with three shows on Saturday and Sunday.
As boss clown, Albin, who now in his sixth year with the Ringling Bros. circus, is charged with making sure all the clowns in the show do what they're supposed to do. He also performs in the show himself -- he's the clown with a big letter T on his costume.
One of the goals the circus constantly faces, he said, is keeping the show fresh, with acts that appeal to contemporary youngsters, while still featuring the traditional kinds of performers that make the circus what it is. That balance has been achieved in Circus Xtreme, he said.
Among his favorite acts is a team of American BMX riders, who perform the kind of bicycle stunts that people see in extreme sports competitions on TV. That's not the kind of act people usually associate with a circus.
"The Feld family, of Feld Entertainment, the owner of the circus, is constantly scouring the globe to bring in not just groups like these, but keeping the traditional acts," Albin said. "It's a marriage of the two."
"Circus Xtreme" also features Ukrainian trampoline artists who perform synchronized jumps and flips off of a structure a couple of stories high, and free-runners who perform seemingly impossible feats that combine running, tumbling and gymnastics.
More traditional acts include a group of Mongolian strong men, Gemma "The Jet" Kirby, who's billed as the world's youngest female human cannonball, and, of course, clowns and animal acts.
"Circus Xtreme" is the first circus to go out on the road after being rehearsed in the Ringling Bros. new winter home at Feld Entertainment headquarters in Palmetto. Producer Alana Feld said the new facility made the staging "Circus Xtreme" much more streamlined.
"The biggest thing for our company is to rehearse here and to have everything under one roof," she said. "The set builders are right here, so if something breaks or doesn't work we don't have to have it trucked in from across the country. The costumes department is right here so we can make changes."
Albin said that the circus' new home in Palmetto, is so close to Ringling's beginnings, that it gives a spiritual boost to the entire company. "It feels like we're coming home," he said.
Details: Jan. 1-4, Amalie Arena, 401 Channelside Drive, Tampa. Show times: 7:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday; 11; 30 a.m., 3 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday; 11 a.m., 3 and 7 p.m. Sunday. Tickets: $16-$70. Information: 813-301-2500, amaliearena.com.
Marty Clear, features writer/columnist, can be reached at 941-708-7919. Follow twitter.com/martinclear.