Circus of Horrors returns to Motherwell next month as it continues to bring “extreme to the mainstream”.
This year the macabre show is celebrating its 21st birthday and is coming of age in spectacular style with Welcome to the Carnevil.
Set in London in 1899, when Jack the Ripper was still at large, a young girl dreams of running away to join the circus only to see her dream become a nightmare in a decrepit and corpse-ridden “carnevil”.
In charge of the chaos is Circus of Horror’s ringmaster and founder Dr Haze.
He said: “I can hardly believe it has been 21 years, when we started out I thought we might last a few years, but I could never have imagined the success we’ve enjoyed.
“I am very proud of the fact that we have been successful and found our audience without compromise, my plan was always top bring the extreme to the mainstream, not the other way round.
“Even when we did Britain’s Got Talent I insisted we did things our way or we didn’t do it at all and happily they were fine with us performing without interference.
“We were the first British circus to perform in Russia, did 10 dates at the O2 last year with 100 dates overall, we are almost part of the establishment.”
Dr Haze was keen for his freaks and fiends to return to the streets of Whitechapel.
“For the 21st we had to do something special and that era is just so evocative, the world of Jack the Ripper lends itself so well as a theme for our show,” he said.
“This isn’t the first time we’ve got down this route, but I feel in the past we didn’t quite do it justice, people don’t come to the circus to watch a play, but I think we have got it right this time of lending atmosphere to the proceedings, but not taking away from our wonderful acts.”
Welcome to the Carnevil features a swamp of killer clowns, sword swallowers, demon dwarfs, contortionists, a world record holding “hairculian” diva, fire limboing acrobats and many more.
Dr Haze says he is inundated with requests to join the company meaning he is able to use the very best talent.
He said: “There isn’t a day of the week we don’t get an application, they might be a performer from Cirque de Soleil or they might literally be a teenager who wants to run away to join the circus.
“We look at their stuff and if they have something then we invite them for an audition and if we don’t then we tell them to keep working at it.
“I grew up in the circus, it is in my blood and they’ll need to carry me off stage in a box, so I am very keen to ensure it is preserved and we are in a very fortunate position that our reputation has grown to the point we have all this talent to chose from and that means we can make the shows better and better.”
Circus of Horrors has gained many celebrity fans over the years including rock legends Lemmy and Alice Cooper.
Dr Haze said: “I first met Lemmy in the 1980s when I used to perform at a club in London, prior to the Circus of Horrors being founded.
“Years later we were invited to perform on the same bill in Japan as Motorhead, Foo Fighters and Noel Gallagher which was incredible.
“I met Alice Cooper at another festival, a magazine wanted to set up a photo with both of us, and as I like to meet these people on an equal footing that seemed okay.
“I actually bumped into Arthur Brown who I have known for a long time and asked if he fancied meeting Alice .
“We went over and his people suddenly got a bit weird saying they hadn’t expected two people.
“In the end they let Arthur in, can you imagine if Arthur Brown had been told he couldn’t meet Alice Cooper, that would have been a crazy world.
“The thing that struck me was Alice had either done his research or gave the impression he had which made me feel very welcome.”
Circus of Horrors is hoping to break into new markets and Dr Haze might realise his ambition of meeting Rob Zombie.
He said: “I am a big fan of Rob’s work, but thus far no one has booked us on the same bill, however we are trying to arrange to go to the USA and China for the first time so you never know.”
Circus of Horrors is at Motherwell Concert Hall on Sunday, February 7, at 7.30pm.
Tickets costing £22 (£18 concession) are available by calling 01698 403120 or online