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Why ‘Severance’ star Britt Lower is joining the circus in St. Louis

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Britt Lower
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Britt Lower stars as Helly in the Apple TV+ series, "Severance." She plays a central role in Circus Flora's 36th season.

Actress Britt Lower is fresh off her starring role in the first season of the critically acclaimed Apple TV+ series “Severance.” In the dystopian thriller, Lower plays a character named Helly, whom she describes as a “raw rebel breaking out of the status quo and of feeling trapped.”

“It just feels like [the show] hit a real touchstone with people, especially during the ‘Great Resignation,’” she said on St. Louis on the Air.

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Circus Flora
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Circus Flora's 36th season is the "The Quest for the Innkeeper's Cask."

Filming for the second season of “Severance” will begin this fall. Before it does, Lower will get out of her comfort zone as a first-time circus performer. She’s been in St. Louis for about a week after completing a seven-day solo drive from Los Angeles to St. Louis while towing a small trailer.

“I’m living on the circus lot and living my best daydream,” she said. In Circus Flora’s “The Quest for the Innkeeper’s Cask,” Lower will act, sing and play the ukulele. She portrays one of the St. Louis Spirit Sleuths who is tracking down an innkeeper through the caves beneath St. Louis to try to recover the zest that’s been stolen from St. Louis citizens.

That thematic charm will accompany familiar Circus Flora acts such as the Flying Wallendas and their highwire performance, the Flying Cortes’ trapeze work and the St. Louis Arches. New to the circus this year are Sam & Louis performing a “Russian cradle” aerial act as well as Trio Black Diamond, a three-person balancing act from Ethiopia.

Circus Flora Artistic Director Jack Marsh said it wasn’t hard to sell Lower on the idea of spending time in St. Louis, despite his initial pitch: “This is not the best career decision you’ll ever make, and you’ll definitely get some people scratching their heads about this.

“But, I know for a fact that it is a lovely place to be, St. Louis in the summer. Circus Flora, I know that’s a lovely place to be, and I know it’s a great place to work,” he said on the talk show.

‘Severance’ star Britt Lower explains why she's joining the circus

Lower is no stranger to the humidity of a Midwest summer. The central Illinois native grew up just a 2½-hour drive from St. Louis, in Heyworth. And, Lower has experience being around a circus.

Lower’s mother runs a prominent face painting business, and, when Lower was a teenager, she would travel the festival circuit painting faces.

“That's where I first encountered circus performers and artists who live on the road and work on the road as a living.” Lower explained. “I just became totally enamored by the tightrope walkers and jugglers who I met.”

In 2019, Lower also wrote, directed and starred in a short film called “Circus Person.” The film is about a woman who has a spontaneous desire to join the circus after she goes through heartbreak. It’s a story inspired by a chapter in Lower’s own life.

Lower has already had a chance to experience parts of life in St. Louis. She attended St. Louis Shakespeare Festival’s “Much Ado About Nothing” in Forest Park. She has plans to visit the City Museum and see family in Godfrey, Illinois.

Related Event

What: Circus Flora’s “The Quest for the Innkeeper’s Cask”
When: Through July 3
Where: The Big Top, 3401 Washington Ave., St. Louis, MO 63103

St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is hosted by Sarah Fenske and produced by Emily Woodbury, Kayla Drake, Danny Wicentowski and Alex Heuer. Avery Rogers is our production assistant. The audio engineer is Aaron Doerr.

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Alex is the executive producer of "St. Louis on the Air" at St. Louis Public Radio.

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