American rodeo cowboy Andre McClain has tamed a lot of challenges in his day, but since last year he has lassoed himself a new life as Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey’s first-ever equestrian ringmaster.
McClain, 37, will hit the TD Garden on Oct. 15 along with 110 performers to host the circus’ newest show, “Built to Amaze.”
“My job is to make sure you’re enjoying yourself, and make sure the performers are energized and the customers are having a good time," said McClain, who met his "Ringlette" dancer wife Dani at work.
"It was his voice that drew me to him," said Dani, 25, of the behind-the-scenes romance. "I imagined him waking up every morning with that voice saying, 'Good morning, baby.'"
The two call Kansas City, Mo. home, but spend 11 months of the year traveling and performing.
McClain points to constant talent scouting and young producers as helping to keep the circus edgy.
"They try to keep it contemporary with our time, but also manage to keep it traditional," he said. "We have such a creative team, and it helps that we have two beautiful producers - young ladies in their 30s - who run the show."
He fires back at allegations by activists that circus animals endure lives of hardship.
"These animals have unbelievable lives here,” said McClain. “You can see the bond between the animals and the handlers."
McClain rides his personal horse in the show, and points to a deep relationship as the reason behind the animal-trainer trust.
“I don’t know if I’m half-animal and half-human,” quipped McClain. “We related to each other in a special way. There is a special bond. The animal knows I can trust him.”
According to Feld Entertainment, which produces the show, Ringling Bros. employs full-time staff veterinarians who administer veterinary care to all the animals. A local veterinarian is also on call 24 hours a day in each city where the show performs, the company said.
As for starting their own little three-ring family, Dani said they've got their heart set on eventually having a baby.
"We're working on it," she said. "I think it might come natural to [the child] to be a part of the show… seeing us perform every day will help, but it will probably be in [his or her] blood."
If you go
Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Presents "Built To Amaze" promises more than 110 performers from 17 countries, who will colorfully mimic the construction of a circus.
The show also features nearly 100 exotic and domestic animals, including 18 tigers, as well as a slew of Asian elephants, ferrets, snakes, dogs and rabbits.