Every year I look forward to going to Circus Flora, which is St. Louis's own one-ring (air-conditioned) circus, with family in tow, knowing that a splendid time is guaranteed for all. And, this year's show is no exception. There are acts of equestrian artistry, magical hijinks with the much beloved Nino the Clown, The Flying Wallendas, the St. Louis Arches, and so much more to see. The theme this year is medieval in nature, loosely chronicling the life and mythology of King Arthur with their production of The Wizard: Merlin and the Legend of King Arthur. Come one, come all to this fabulous display of acrobatic splendor that's well worth your time and attention.
The show is filled with various acts that often amusing, death-defying, and graceful, sometimes all at the same time. The Aerial Mirror finds the Koechlin twins suspended high above the ground, moving and balancing inside a ring that is lifted aloft. The Riders of the ring deliver a display of horsemanship that is unparalleled, and the Flying Wallendas dazzle with their fright-inducing high wire work. The Bertini Troupe provide the assembled with an exceptional guide to maneuvering a unicycle, some of which are several feet tall. The St. Louis Arches, much like Luciano's Pound Puppies cavort, and soar, delighting the audience, and making us all children again, while Cecil Mackinnon guides us gently through the story as “Yo-Yo, the narrator”, this time in the guise of the great Merlin the wizard. There's also a terrific act with a suspended chair, and an exciting rope act that needs to be seen to be believed.
None of this happens without guidance (Artistic Director Ivor David Balding), a theme, and superb technicians (supervised by Tentmaster Erik Jaeger) who are constantly in motion, remaking the ring into the proper configuration depending on the act that's currently performing. Miriam Cutler provides the compositions, along with musical director/composer/arranger Janine Delarte, that are custom fit to the chosen theme, and that the Circus Flora Band play before, after, and during each act to set the mood.
The look of this years' show can be attributed to Sarah Pearline, who adorns the bandstand with giant pages from a book about King Arthur, and also to Nina Reed who outfits the performers in the appropriate garbs. Christine Ferriter designs a lighting scheme that keeps all the action in focus, and Mark Kreitler's sound design allows us to hear the narration, band, and performers equally well.
Go immediately and lose at least ten to twenty years turning into a child again at Circus Flora! Their current production of The Wizard: Merlin and the Legend of King Arthur, continues through June 24, 2012 in the big red tent near Powell Symphony Hall.
Photo credit: Scott Raffe