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Circus to present virtual show from Roswell

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The tent of Do Portugal Circus is seen through an entryway fence at the Eastern New Mexico State Fair grounds, 2500 S.E. Main. The family owned circus has been in Roswell since March 9, unable to perform or travel due to the coronavirus pandemic. (Juno Ogle Photo)

Just days after arriving in Roswell, Do Portugal Circus was ready to put on its show when the state’s health orders put a stop to all large gatherings.

Now, nearly five months later, the performers are getting ready for their Roswell show, but the crowds will be at home.

A free virtual circus performance will be live-streamed by area media on Facebook at 7 p.m. Aug. 14.

A website, roswelllovesthecircus.com, has been launched with links to Facebook pages that will livestream the show and other information, including how locals can audition for a chance to be part of the event.

Circus treats will even be available for curbside pickup the day of the performance at the Eastern New Mexico State Fair grounds, where the circus has made a home since March.

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The virtual performance came about last week when the circus worked with Enrique Moreno, director of Roswell Community Disaster Relief Services. The nonprofit aid service had helped organize a sale of face shields the circus members had made to help bolster their funds since they have stayed in Roswell longer than anticipated.

Damian Portugal, manager of the family-owned circus, said Moreno approached him with the idea for the virtual performance. On Monday, they met with event planner Sergio Jimenez of Let’s Play Entertainment. Other people and organizations got on board to stream the performance on their Facebook pages.

Moreno said all involved will follow state health regulations. There will be no audience at the circus tent itself — only the performers and volunteers with those streaming the video.

Without a crowd, it will be a bit different for the performers, Portugal said.

“It’s not going to be the same but we are thinking of those who are going to be watching us at home and we are going to do our best,” he said.

Portugal said the show is a way of giving back to the community that has helped them through the pandemic. With many other states restricting large gatherings, they decided to stay put in Roswell.

The fair board is allowing them to stay on the fairgrounds and use water and electricity free of charge.

“If we were in a big city, we would have been told to move on,” Portugal said.

The big top has remained set up allowing the performers to train and practice their skills. While they have done so every day, the idea of performing again has given them some new energy, Portugal said.

The performers and crew did a run-through of the show earlier this week and will do so several times before the performance, he said.

“Even if we keep practicing, we need to run through the show,” he said.

The two-hour show will include all the same acts of a regular performance, he said, including juggling, clowns and the trapeze.

“I want people to see the lights, I want people to hear the motorcycles,” Moreno said.

One lucky person might be able to do more than just watch.

“We’re taking auditions from local performers, whether they’re acrobats or musicians or singers,” Moreno said.

To audition, performers can upload a one- to two-minute video to Facebook, tag Do Portugal Circus and comment why they want to be considered. The circus members will watch the auditions and select a performer to be included in the show. The winner won’t be revealed until the livestream on Aug. 14.

Moreno said ideally, the winner will be invited to perform live under the big top, but depending on health orders, Portugal said, the audition video might be presented during the livestream.

City/RISD reporter Juno Ogle can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 205, or reporter04@rdrnews.com.