Circus Flora Celebrates 25th Season with VAGABOND ADVENTURES, 6/2-26

By: Apr. 12, 2011
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In celebration of its 25th season, Circus Flora, St. Louis' beloved, one-ring circus presents a brand new show, Vagabond Adventures, June 2 through 26, under the air-conditioned, red-and-white, big top tent in Grand Center. Presented by Edward Jones, the show comes on the heels of Circus Flora's triumph with the St. Louis Symphony in January.

Vagabond Adventures is set on the Floating Palace, an actual circus venue that traveled up and down the Mississippi River before the Civil War. This majestic riverboat triggers the season's thrilling caper, picking up where the critically acclaimed Symphony performance left off.

"It's been 25 years in the making, and we are pulling out all the stops," said Ivor David Balding, producer and artistic director. "We are especially excited that so many performers who have made this circus what it is today will be back to help us celebrate."

Vagabond Adventuresreunites Circus Flora stars from the last quarter century such as the Flying Wallendas on the high wire, the dazzling acrobatics of the St. Louis Arches, the Flying Pages on the flying trapeze, Una Mimnagh on the corde lisse (vertical rope), legendary circus performer and Circus Flora co-founder Alexandre Sacha Pavlata as well as everyone's favorite clown, Giovanni Zoppé as Nino.

"Unlike true vagabonds, who wander about with no home, when we see the performers and crew come together at Circus Flora again each spring, we know they are 'home,'" Balding said.

The 25th season also ushers in a host of exciting new acts, including the Olate Dogs' amazing and hilarious tricks and the Riding Donnert's spellbinding horsemanship, including juggling on horseback!

Richard Olate, his family and his dogs come to Circus Flora from the humblest of beginnings in Chile, where long ago Richard discovered his talent as an animal trainer with an abundance of stray dogs. Now, having performed in the United States for more than 20 years, Circus Flora proudly presents this family as testament that with hard work and determination, it's possible to break through any barrier.

Brothers Robert and David Donnert are fifth-generation circus performers, having started their careers almost from the moment they were born. Trained by their father and uncle, they perform a very unique act of juggling on horseback. Over the past 21 years, the brothers have performed for audiences of the most renowned circuses and galas all over the world, and this year, for the first time, Circus Flora is thrilled to welcome them to St. Louis!

Vagabond Adventures finds stowaways on board the Floating Palace, with dreams of becoming circus performers. From their hiding places, they catch wind of a scheme that threatens the boat. Enthralled by the luscious Lottie Luppu, played by Una Mimnagh, these unlikely heroes uncover her hidden identity - Lola Montes, a spy for a Spanish/Argentinean plot to commandeer the barge and abscond with it to Argentina. Through the stowaways' heroic efforts, the Floating Palace is saved, escapes the treacherous waters of the Gulf of Mexico and returns to delight the audiences of St Louis - the largest city west of the Mississippi.

"How fitting that Vagabond Adventures pays tribute to the history of circus in the heartland, the elements of which are traceable worldwide," Balding said. "It's truly a jubilee celebration for Circus Flora's silver anniversary. It plays to our roots with tons of fun, lively music and brilliant costuming, not to mention a thrilling adventure."

The always affordable, family-friendly Circus Flora takes place under the air-conditioned, red-and-white, big top tent in Grand Center, St. Louis' arts and entertainment hub, adjacent to Powell Hall (corner of Grand Boulevard and Samuel Shepard Drive).

Show times are Tuesday through Thursday at 7 p.m.; Friday and Saturday at 2 and 7 p.m.; Sunday at 1 and 5:30 p.m.; and "Little Top Wednesday" at 10 a.m., a special one-hour show for smaller kids or the "kids at heart." The annual peanut-free preview opens the season June 2 for those with peanut allergies. June 18 is the second annual Scouting Day at the circus. All Boy and Girl Scouts are invited to purchase their tickets through their troops, enjoy the performance together, and stay afterwards for badge-related activities.

Tickets for Vagabond Adventures are $8 to $44. Call 314-289-4040 or visit for tickets and information. Tickets are also available at the Circus Flora box office in the Centene Center for the Arts & Education, 3547 Olive Street. Group discounts are available for groups of 20 or more.


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