by: Angela Hutti

ST. LOUIS – After a hiatus due to the pandemic, feats of daring and wonder have resumed in Grand Center. Normally performed in early Summer, Circus Flora is back for its 35th season under the iconic Big Top.

“Typically, we’re in June. But because of the pandemic, we, like everybody else, had to adjust our timetables and the way we do things,” said managing director Karen Shoulders. “So we decided to try this fall run and, so far, it’s been lovely.”

The European-style one-ring circus blends modern performance with traditional circus arts.  This year, it’s the “Trial of the Century,” where the Big Top becomes the courtroom and the acrobats become the evidence.

“There are some courtroom hijinks. The wonderful audience is the jury this year so there is a little bit of a whodunit that you might need to solve when you come out.”

Circus Flora has brought together acts from around the globe and from right here in St. Louis. Pennsylvania-based comedian and contortionist Jonathan Burns is one of them.

“It’s my first time performing at Circus Flora. It’s my first time ever being in the circus,” he said.

Burns, like so many performers, is excited to be back at his craft after COVID-19.

“For the past year and half, I’ve been performing to a camera in my basement,” he said. “So, this is nice to be out and actually hear laughter. People laughing at me in person and on purpose.”

Circus Flora is requiring proof of vaccination for everyone 12 and up or a negative COVID-19 test. Masks are also required.

“We have the tent walls off…up. So, it’s nice and safe and open air. It’s been really wonderful, and the audiences are coming back,” Shoulders said.

And it’s the energy of those audiences that makes these performers so grateful to be back

“This is what we do best: bring the magic of the circus to everybody. We need to interact with our audiences. We want to leave this tent feeling better than when they came in,” Shoulders said.

Tickets for “Trial of the Century” begin at just $15 and performances run through the end of October. Circus Flora hopes to return to its regular June scheduling in 2022.

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