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NEW YORK (Reuters) - Britney Spears starred in her own "Circus" on Tuesday, performing songs from her new album of that name under a big top in New York City, unveiling plans for a 2009 tour and celebrating her 27th birthday.
Spears performed new songs under the Big Apple Circus tent in Manhattan for ABC breakfast show "Good Morning America" and announced plans for a 26-city North American tour, starting in New Orleans on March 3, and two concerts in London in June.
The pop star is attempting a comeback from a high-profile meltdown, which included stints in rehab and psychiatric hospital units, an ugly divorce, losing custody of her two sons and shaving her head.
"Old Britney I think is back," said Jamal Alexander, 24, from Brooklyn, who couldn't get inside the circus tent and stood outside to hear Spears perform. "This seems more real, more put together. She has the right people behind her now."
Since early this year, Spears' father, Jamie, has taken over management of her affairs and helped get her life back on track. She has made guest appearances on the U.S. television series "How I Met Your Mother" and regained custody of her sons Sean Preston, 3, and Jayden, 2, for three days a week.
"I have never stopped loving her," said Kate Trunkwalter, 23, a bartender who traveled from Atlantic City, New Jersey, even though she didn't have a ticket for the show. "I always stood up for her when she was going through her rough times."
"Womanizer," the first single from "Circus," hit No. 1 on Billboard's Hot 100 singles chart in October.
The album -- from Jive Records which is part of by Sony Music Entertainment Inc, a unit of Sony Corp -- marks the followup to 2007's "Blackout." That was also billed as a comeback but failed to return Spears to the commercial heyday she enjoyed at the turn of the century.
"I know she's back, I'm really excited for her," said Giovanna Arredondo, 25, who lives in the Dominican Republic.
Reporting by Michelle Nichols