Circus Flora remains irresistible. Even in this age of reality television - and shouldn't that word have quotation marks surrounding it, indicating its dubious accuracy? - an even that brings spectators so close to living, breathing excitement is more than worthwhile.
This year's edition sparkles. Titled "The Wizard", the Arthurian theme allows for some splendid costumes, like those of Cecil MacKinnon, the narrator who plays Merlin himself. (I'd kill for that coat.) It also gives a little more framework for the story line than many of Flora's earlier works. And the sound system, blurry at first, cleared nicely before the end of the first half.
For those of us who are suckers for dog acts, Luciano's Pound Puppies kept necks swiveling, although it's hard to imagine the white standard poodle and the English bulldog could ever have been foundlings. The Flying Wallendas, fixtures at Flora for many years, return with familiar faces and their still-hypnotizing work on the high wire. Another constant and yet always-evolving group are the St. Louis Arches, the leaping, pyramiding, juggling kids who audiences have watched grow up and mentor the newest, smallest members.
Speaking of smallest, there are several things that makes Circus Flora a real family show. One is Nino, Giovanni Zoppe's endearing clown character, always creating shrieks of delight. Zoppe's new sidekick, his toddler son, is already a charmer, coached by dad and a happy young and tender ham. Another is the Bertini family, Dad, who also doubles as a chap wearing a snake, Mom and two daughters. The older one is able to join her parents on their unicycles; the younger one, wearing a blonde wig and a wide grin, can't do much yet except gesture widely to thank the audience for appreciating her. Oh, and her family, too, of course. And then there's the exits. Every one is manned by a gaggle of circus folk both adult and not-adult, thanking the guests for coming, answering questions, and giving even more of a close-up of the circus fairy dust.
Several daylight performances for those who need to have proper bedtimes, and indeed, some morning performances of a shortened version for those who still need that afternoon nap. The adventurous should hope for ringside seats, the better to appreciate the horses thundering by in the final act; the more timorous may appreciate some distance. But everyone can appreciate Circus Flora.
just east of Powell Hall
Credit cards: Yes
Wheelchair access: Good
Smoking: No way