It's the circus - but not as you know it; PREVIEW: Circus of Horrors at venues throughout Wales.
MARIA Verhelst-Hopkins always dreamt of a life in show business but she never imagined that when her opportunity came it would be straight into the cult show The Circus of Horrors.
She was working in a bar in Swansea when the creator of The Circus of Horrors, Dr Haze, paid a visit and heard her singing.
"I was just singing along to some classic Alice Cooper songs and he commented that I had a great voice. I was, of course, flattered but didn't think it would go any further."
A few months later she saw an ad on the show's website for a singer and applied for the post.
During her interview, she was told that the job included climbing out of a bottle, just two-feet tall.
"After the interview I went for an audition and there was the bottle. With trepidation I tried to get inside - I failed at the first three attempts but on my fourth attempt I did it and amazingly got the job."
Within weeks of joining the show, Maria had performed at The Isle of White Festival, The Fuji Rock Festival in Japan, the 3,700-capacity Stadium Live in Moscow and the RAJ in Amsterdam as well as completing a UK tour.
Now she is a featured singer in the show which is on a nationwide tour and visits four venues in Wales.
The latest incarnation, Welcome To The Carnevil is set in Victorian London in 1899 - Jack the Ripper was still at large and this was the age of the freak show. Three young people dream of running away to join the circus only to see their dream become a nightmare in a decrepit and corpse-ridden "carnevil" which is plagued by Killer Klowns, Sword Swallowers, Demon Dwarves, Death Deifying Aerialists and a Hairculian Diva swinging solely from her hair. The story twists and turns with grisly murders and sensational shocks - all interwoven with some of the greatest and most bizarre circus acts on earth.
The show will be at St David's Hall in Cardiff on January 19; Venue Cymru in Llandudno on February 21; The Riverfront in Newport on February 23 and Swansea Grand Theatre on April 25