Trumpet playing. Stilt walking. Unicycling. Juggling. Sound effects. Singing and dancing. Physical comedy. Object balancing. Object spinning.
With his vast array of talents, it’s no wonder Dean Kelley is nicknamed the “Swiss Army Knife of Clowns.”
Although he’s been a Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey clown for over seven years, Kelley shows no intention of slowing down.
“I’m still learning,” he said. “You never stop learning.”
This spirit fits right in with the circus theme of “Fully Charged,” set to perform at the Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza April 25-28. Show times are at 7 p.m. Thursday and Friday, 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. Sunday. Ticket prices vary and can be obtained by calling 800.745.3000 or at The Mohegan Sun Arena Box Office.
The 40-city North American tour is described in a circus news release as “a high-speed connection to the most electrifying performers from around the world…five-ton Asian elephants, powerful acrobats, unbelievable daredevils and hysterical hi-jinxs.”
Kelley said “one of the coolest things” about Barnum and Bailey and Ringling Brothers is it is family oriented. “You can have three or four generations of the family,” he said, “and they can all sit together in awe of the same things.”
It was at the age of four when Kelley saw his first circus and decided he wanted to be a clown. He said although his parents thought he would “grow out of it,” the desire only increased over time, as he aspired to attend Ringling Brothers’ clown college.
The school closed, however, before he could fulfill that goal. Instead, he attended Kansas City Kansas Community College and took courses in theater. Then, it was while working as an actor in Kansas City, that he heard about Ringling Brothers’ first open call for clowns in 30 years. He auditioned, and was hired on the spot.
“Growing up knowing what a treasure Ringling Bros. is to the world,” he said, “and then being able to perform in the show, is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience. It’s something I have always dreamed of doing and I’m glad I have the opportunity.”
He said what he enjoys most about the show is hosting the All Access Pre-show Power-Up Party, which will be held on the arena floor one hour before show time. At the party, audience members are invited to learn electric dance moves, strike a pose in “high-powered” costumes, learn balancing and juggling skills, take a look at the exotic animals and meet and take photos with the Fully Charged cast.
Kelley said he always looks forward to meeting the audience during this time.
“I hope everyone can gets to come see the show,” he said, adding the performers always love visiting Wilkes-Barre and meeting the “awesome people” there.
Some of his other favorite cities to visit on tour, he said, are Savannah, Ga., San Diego, Calif., New York, N.Y., Las Vegas, Nev. and Seattle, Wash.
He said his favorite part of being in the circus is travelling, which he does 48 weeks out of the year.
“It’s really cool,” he said. “I get to travel all over the country and my back yard changes every single week.”