For years Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey's three-ring spectacle was the North American circus. Then Cirque du Soleil changed everyone's expectations--suddenly circuses were supposed to be hip and visually stunning. It was inevitable that the folks at Barnum & Bailey would match the competition. But no one could have predicted how sophisticated, well planned, nicely executed, and seductive their effort would be. I'm not just talking about the traditional acts that crowd the bill--the tumblers and marksmen and strongmen and clowns--though they're amazing. I'm talking about how well the folks at Kaleidoscape (following the leads of Cirque du Soleil, the Big Apple Circus, and Blue Man Group) have done at creating an alternative entertainment universe of color, music, and activity. Unlike its intimidating three-ring cousin, this kind of circus works hard to make audiences feel comfortable: from the moment you step into the small tented reception area outside the Kaleidoscape big top, you're enfolded. Extensive preshow performances staged like street theater at various spots around the space provide a taste of what's to come. And the show itself is as beautifully structured as the brand-new big top that houses it, featuring enthusiastic performers at the top of their game in circus acts from around the world. Soldier Field, south parking lot, 425 E. McFetridge, 877-922-7686 or 312-559-1212. Opens Wednesday, March 29, 7:30 PM. Through April 30: Wednesdays-Fridays, 7:30 PM; Saturdays, 2 and 7:30 PM; Sundays, 2 and 6:30 PM; Tuesday, April 18, 7:30 PM; Friday, April 28, 3:30 PM; Saturday, April 15, 11 AM and 3 PM; Sunday, April 23, 3 PM only. $19.75-$48.