Circus Flora is back. The big top is erected behind Powell Hall, the cotton candy is ready, and the air crackles with the excitement of children of all ages - including big kids like me. The 2014 edition is one that would have done the late and much-lamented David Balding, Flora's creator, proud.
The story line, a chess game, is easier to follow, and Cecil MacKinnon as YoYo, the narrator (and, behind the scenes, theater director), teaches even the big kids a little something about the history of the game as things begin. At first, people who've gone regularly over the years, notice that things have changed a little with new faces along with the old. But soon one is swept up in the pageant.
The new faces include Adam Kuchler a pawn in civilian clothes, silent but madly expressive and fey in his approach to the work at hand. He charmed the audience almost from the start. And then there's Duo Kate & Pasi, a married pair from Finland who combine warmth and talent into some amazing acrobatics. Perhaps the biggest surprise, though, was the chorus line of camels and their choreographer Ian Garden, Jr.
Old friends include the Flying Wallendas on the high wire and the Flying Cortes family on the trapezes. But on opening night, the biggest cheers were for the St. Louis Arches, our home-grown world-traveling troupe, some of whom we've watched since they were barely able to walk.
It seemed to me this year that things were paced more briskly than in some years past, a nice thing when you're dealing with the short attention fans of, uh, shorter fans, especially the ones around, oh, three feet or so. It's a particularly worthwhile year to visit, I think.
Not all performances are at night, and there are some one-hour ones for the really short attention fans.
through June 22