Italian music blared through the white and blue tent on Saturday as audience members looked in amazement at the acrobatic feats happening before their eyes.
Performers balanced effortlessly on each other’s shoulders as they bounced on a giant trampoline, while others twirled upside down from 30 feet in the air.
Performing dogs, horses and chickens made the audience laugh with their choreographed jumps and tricks as Nino the Clown flitted through the bleachers calling children and adults to the ring.
Zoppe, an Italian Family Circus, returned to Westhampton Beach this weekend for five sold-out performances on the Great Lawn. The show, which was hosted by the Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center, specializes in creating a family atmosphere with an emphasis on frequent audience participation.
“I think it’s great,” said Lisa Pope, 34, of Manhattan, who brought her two children to see the show. “It’s a really cute family circus.”
Shouts of “Bravo!” and “Magnifico!” could be heard as the performers leaped through the air and juggled flaming torches for the 500 attendees. Children laughed with delight as clowns bounced from trampolines and squirted water at audience members during the two-hour performance.
“The kids enjoy it,” said Ronnie Colon, 31, of Shirley. “It’s a blast.”
The Zoppe family and their friends have been performing across the globe since 1842. Spanning six generations of performers, the Italian natives continue to entertain audiences with their interactive shows and intimate setting.
“Performing is our life,” said Tosca Zoppe, an acrobat. “It’s different from most entertainment. We really have a connection with the audience.”
Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center representative Jodi Giambrone said the circus returned to Westhampton Beach this summer because of its overwhelming popularity last year.
“Once this tent goes up, you can’t drive by without buying a ticket,” said Giambrone, 33, of Westhampton. “It’s magical.”
Audience members of all ages were frequently called to participate in the show, which drew big laughs from young and old alike.
“The way people see the circus here when they come to see our show is as it was 160 years ago,” said Giovanni Zoppe, who plays Nino the Clown. “There’s no flashing lights or smoke and mirrors or girls in tight costumes. First and foremost our show is about family.”