Circus Flora, St. Louis’ most famous big top show, is celebrating its 30th anniversary this summer. The theme? “Pastime,” which hearkens back to the “golden age” of baseball. Performances start on June 2 and go through July 3 this year.
“When we were putting this show together, that’s where we set it, the golden age of baseball: ‘40s, ‘50s,” said Jack Marsh, the artistic director of Circus Flora. “To me, it is before TV, it is before even night games. It is those lazy summer afternoons with the radio on and hearing your favorite team, maybe it is just in the background as you go about your day. It is this all-consuming summer activity that surrounds you throughout the course of the summer.”
For Larry Mabrey, Circus Flora’s new executive director who has been serving in that post since January, making the theme of the theatrical circus show that of baseball was an effort to connect audiences to the “larger than life” icons of people like Mickey Mantle and Stan Musial.
“Larger than life is something Jack will be able to bring the show,” Mabrey said.
The performance, which takes place under a big top in Grand Center, features seating that, at its furthest is only 40 feet away from the performers.
“Circus Flora, to me, it is quite different from what a lot of people expect when they hear the word ‘circus,’” Marsh said. “One of the common reactions we get from the audience is a sense of surprise. If they haven’t seen it before, they think they are coming to the circus they know from pop culture. Frankly, it is a lot different to come to Circus Flora. It is a theater show along with having incredible circus acts. We also tell a story. All of the performers double as actors. We’re not only wowing with physical feats, we’re also trying to find emotional depth.”
This year’s story centers on the plight of the Mound City Zephyrs, a fictional hometown team that isn’t doing so well, as they take on their arch rival baseball teams. The show features all original music by Miriam Cutler and a bevy of new acts such as Cuban Connection, which hails from Cuba and creates a human flag on a vertical pole.
Favorites such as the Flying Wallendas and the Flying Cortes, however, will be back.
The circus is also taking strides to make a difference in the community. The group participates in a program called “Clowns on Call,” which brings clowns into hospitals to cheer up children there. There’s also “Share the Circus,” which is on pace to give away more than the 3,000 tickets donated to underserved children last year, and “Tumbling and Teamwork,” which helps children going through emotional difficulties.
What: Circus Flora presents "Pastime"
When: June 2 - July 3, 2016
Where: 3511 Samuel Shepard Dr., St. Louis, MO 63103
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