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BWW Reviews: Circus Flora's Daring and Dazzling INGENIOSO Plays Through 6/27


Last year was the first time I'd taken my son to see Circus Flora, and even though he was excited to go again, he's at the stage where he's a wee bit afraid of the dark. So, when the lights went down at the beginning of this year's show, Ingenioso, he freaked out a little. But, the charm of the performers, particularly the animal ones, quickly won him over and by the close of the night he was sporting a broad smile as we exited the tent. I think the fact that he got a great big hug from his favorite clown Nino (Giovanni Zoppe) certainly helped. And, it's that kind of warmth and good humor that you'll find on display here, along with a considerable amount of athleticism and grace.

This year the show is themed around The Man of La Mancha, and as such, Yo-Yo the narrator (Cecil Mackinnon) opens the action by introducing Carlos Svenson as Don Quixote, who sits tall in the saddle tilting at the windmill-themed scenery. Of course, any hint of seriousness is immediately tempered by Nino's arrival as Sancho Panza, following close behind on a miniature donkey. Throughout the evening, the basic tale is utilized to set the backdrop for a series of acts that are outfitted and loosely based around the theme, carrying the story forward to a satisfying conclusion.

After this amusing opening, Omar Chinibekov and the Riders of the Ring put on a spectacular display of stunts that were positively death-defying. One particular gag featuring a rider who slipped underneath a moving horse to resume his position from the other side was particularly unnerving to watch. Vince Bruce followed with some astounding rope twirling tricks that found him encircling himself and his horse while galloping along full stride.

My son perked up as Jenny Vidbel came into the ring followed by a collection of goats and dogs, as well as a dozen (my little boy made sure to count them) white welsh ponies. Vidbel guided these well trained animals through a series of maneuvers that tickled and delighted him, and the rest of the audience as well. A lovely pas de deux on the lyra by the Elliaire Duet came next, and then Alexandre Sasha Nevidonski presented us with a dazzling demonstration of his prowess as an equestrian aerialist. Julien Posada closed the first act, and his wire walking antics had a lusty Spanish flair that really fit the mood.

A few familiar faces from the first act started off the second before Erika and Andrew, collectively known as ADAMO, took their place above the circus floor, suspended in midair by two long strands of cloth that were wrapped around Andrew's arms. From this vantage point the pair then took on a number of poses that exposed their considerable strength and agility.

My boy's attention was grabbed almost immediately by the sudden appearance of the acrobatic troupe known as the the St. Louis Arches. When these kids perform there's a real sense of joy and fun in their antics, and that really carries through to the positive reception they receive. The Flying Pages then closed the night with a wonderful high-flying trapeze act that had the assembled crowd mesmerized.

Artistic director and producer Ivor Balding has assembled another irresistible offering with Ingenioso. and he's aided in his efforts by Hovey Burgess's work as dramaturg, Miriam Culter's flavorful compositions, Janine Del'Arte's musical direction, Sarah Pearline's scenic design, Christine Ferriter's lighting, Nina Reed's costumes, and the skilled work of tentmaster Erik Jaeger.

St. Louis has a treasure in Circus Flora, and the combined efforts of this talented and dedicated group of individuals deserves ample credit for all the hard work and imagination that goes into putting this show together.

Circus Flora's fun-filled production of Ingenioso continues through June 27, 2010.

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From This Author Chris Gibson