The spookiest circus

Paranormal Cirque will bring an edgy experience to mature audiences in Bensalem

By Samantha Bambino

The Times

Scare tactics: Instead of the bright, welcoming blue and white tent that hosts the water show, a looming structure known as “The Big Black Castle” houses Paranormal Cirque. Source: Paranormal Cirque

The meaning of the word “entertainment” is being redefined thanks to Paranormal Cirque.

A little bit like Eastern State Penitentiary’s Terror Behind the Walls, bodiless screams penetrate the air while men with prop chainsaws lurk around corners. At the same time, intricate choreography, exquisite costumes and Las Vegas-esque magic tricks can be viewed under an eerily-illuminated tent known as “The Big Black Castle.”

It’s a one-of-a-kind blend of a haunted house, theater and circus, and from Aug. 30 to Sept. 3, locals can bask in the early spirit of Halloween when Paranormal Cirque hits the Neshaminy Mall in Bensalem outside of Boscov’s.

Ahead of the spooky showcase of talent, The Times caught up with COO Chante DeMoustes to learn about the history of this European-inspired project and what potential Paranormal-goers can look forward to.

According to DeMoustes, the idea for Paranormal Cirque stemmed from feedback received by attendees of Cirque Italia, an acclaimed traveling water circus that charmed local audiences when it stopped at the Neshaminy Mall in June. Adult fans, including teens and early 20-somethings, enjoyed the colorful dancing waters of Cirque Italia, but they craved something more mature. They wanted something darker.

After purchasing the props of a show that closed in Europe, DeMoustes and Cirque Italia president Manuel Rebecchi created an entirely new experience to help adult audiences escape to another world. Paranormal Cirque opened in June to sold out crowds and is touring across the United States through November.

Though it incorporates the cutting-edge lights and technology of the Cirque Italia brand, DeMoustes stressed that Paranormal Cirque is vastly different. Upon driving into the Boscov’s parking lot, this difference will be instantly evident to attendees as well. Instead of the bright, welcoming blue and white tent that hosts the water show, a looming structure known as “The Big Black Castle” houses Paranormal Cirque. As its name suggests, the tent is pitch black with ominous red lights basking the outside in a chilling glow.

To add to the suspenseful mood, a hearse and its skeleton passenger are placed next to the tent, which guests are invited to take pictures with.

“It’s a statement of its own,” DeMoustes said.

Once inside, attendees are further immersed into haunted, medieval times as they’re greeted with rusted iron gates by the concession stands, dusty chandeliers and skulls dangling from the ceiling, and the unsettling sounds of screams, ghostly moans and creaking dungeon doors.

For 45 minutes prior to the official start of Paranormal Cirque, guests can interact and take photos with the performers, who will be clad in full costume and makeup (don’t be surprised if you see Pennywise or Jigsaw roaming around). While this portion of the experience involves some thrill as the actors attempt to make passersby jump, those brave enough to stick around for a moment are able to appreciate the intricate details of their clothes, which DeMoustes said were all hand-crafted in Europe.

“You’ll feel like you’re on the movie set of a real thriller,” she said.

But once attendees are in their seats, the “scary” part is over. For the next two hours, the “edgy circus,” as DeMoustes called it, will offer a combination of entertainment and humor. Boasting a talented, multicultural cast of performers from around the world, Paranormal Cirque features a jaw-dropping wheel of death, magic tricks, the infamous cyr wheel, six male gymnasts from Belarus synchronized on a barre suspended in midair and dance choreography, all revolving around a horror-inspired plotline. Similar to Cirque Italia, this show has a strict animal-free policy.

Since Paranormal Cirque was created with a strong drop of European flair, DeMoustes said the show will feature European humor. The language of some jokes will be mature in nature, which is why attendees must be at least 13 years old. Those 13 to 17 are required to be accompanied by an adult. ••

If you go…

Paranormal Cirque will take place Aug. 30-Sept. 3 at the Neshaminy Mall across from Boscov’s, 707 Neshaminy Mall in Bensalem.

Showtimes include the following: Thursday, Aug. 30, at 7:30 p.m.; Friday, Aug. 31, and Saturday, Sept. 1, at 6:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m.; Sunday, Sept. 2, and Monday, Sept. 3, at 4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. The box office opens on-site on Tuesday, the week of the show. Hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on non-show days, and 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on show days.

Tickets can be purchased now starting at $10-$50 at paranormalcirque.com/tickets or by phone at 947–704–8572. There is a special promotion of $2 off any full-priced ticket in levels 1, 2 or 3. Call the number to receive the promo code, and follow facebook.com/paranormalcirque/ for updates.

Samantha Bambino can be reached at sbambino@newspapermediagroup.com