By Miya Norfleet, St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis’ intimate one-ring circus, Circus Flora, is back at the Big Top in Grand Center — this time they are undercover.

Jack Marsh, the nonprofit’s artistic and executive director, hopes to thrill audiences in the circus’ 37th season that runs until June 25 titled “Undercover,” which takes the talents of the cast and sets it to a spy vs. spy theme.

The European-style circus features tightrope acts, a hair arealist, world-class jugglers, human water fountains, motorcycle tricks, martial artists, and a married couple that shoots crossbows at each other (with love, of course).

“You’re always within 25 or 30 feet of the ring,” explained Marsh on St. Louis on the Air. “You’re very much immersed in our world and you can feel this visceral experience of seeing these incredible things that these performers are doing, how difficult it truly is and how few tricks and gimmicks there are.”

The light-hearted storytelling and live musical performances add to the experience, he said.

Marsh has been immersed in the circus world since he was two years old. He first performed with a Clydesdale — also named Jack — and trained as an acrobat and juggler. Later in life he earned a degree in economics from Harvard University and a law degree from the University of Wisconsin.

While some early jobs helped pay off student loans, Marsh returned to the circus ring to make a career out of his passion for theater and performance. “[When] you’re a kid and you’re seeing this world of performance from backstage [and] the sort of culture of circuses is very generous and encouraging of anybody who shows an interest,” he said. “[Circus culture] is something that sort of grows its next generation very organically.”

For more on Jack Marsh’s life experience performing in circuses and the many acts Circus Flora’s “Undercover,” (featuring a 700 hundred-pound pig) listen to St. Louis on the Air on Apple Podcast, Spotify, Google Podcast or Stitcher or listen HERE.