Circus Flora, many congratulations

By Lois Caplan

TOAST OF THE TOWN, this year’s annual J Associates fundraiser Saturday, April 21, will be held at The Pageant, 6161 Delmar Boulevard.  It is to be presented in the style of “The Ed Sullivan Show” (are you old enough to remember that?) and will feature some well-known St. Louisans and their lesser-known talents, as well as the Grammy-award nominee Liverpool Legends, a national touring tribute band to The Beatles. Among the locals are Beverly Brennan, Jack Buck’s daughter, who will sing some of her father’s favorite Rat Pack favorites; father/daughter violin duo Mike and Hava Polinsky, and John Wallach, Bob Gerchen, Tom Townsend, Brian McCary and Bob Shuman—a doctor, two lawyers, an advertising executive and an engineer by day and a rockin’ band of bluesmen by night.

Adult tickets at $100 per person are available at or by calling Kimmi Levinson at 314-442-3109. Youth tickets for those ages 12 to 18 are $36. Proceeds from Toast of the Town benefit JCC scholarships, equipment and program support, meals for homebound seniors, Theatre Unlimited for adults with special needs and scholarships that allow children to attend the Early Childhood Center and camps.

TICKETS FOR CIRCUS FLORA’S 2012 spectacular for The Wizard: Merlin & the Legends of King Arthur went on sale last week for its run from May 31 to June 24.  Is this rushing the season? I don’t think so as Circus Flora, our very own European style one-ring circus, does have many sold-out performances.

This is an all-new production involving the exploits of King Aurthor, Lancelot and Guinevere as well as the characters who make memorable the Arthurian tales. According to Ivor David Balding, artistic director and co-founder of Circus Flora, “the production will be funny, warm, rich and mystical.” It will feature some of Circus Flora’s most celebrated performers, including Nino the Clown, the Flying Wallendas, and the St Louis Arches. New breathtaking acts include aerialists Shana Swanson and Laura Lippert, and the Anastisini dog act known as Luciano’s Pound Puppies.

Circus Flora, a nonprofit organization, presents its affordable production every summer under the air-conditioned big top in Grand Center adjacent to Powell Hall. Tickets start at $10 for a large variety of performances, but I recommend the peanut-free preview on May 31. Call 314-289-4040 or visit for tickets and more information. There is even a special one-hour show for smaller kids called “Little Top Wednesday” at 10 a.m. Can you tell I’m a Circus Freak?  Well, I am.

VOICES FOR CHILDREN, which recently merged with CASA of St. Louis County, will hold its annual “Be the Difference” benefit on Thursday, April 12 at Windows off Washington, 701 N. 15 Street. Voices for Children advocates for abused and neglected children and youth in St. Louis by representing their best interests in court and in the community.  Their child advocates identify and expedite needed education, health and mental services and progress towards a safe, stable, permanent home.  The result is that children are given hope and a voice.

Community leader Donald Suggs will be awarded the 2012 community Superhero Award at the event and Judge Glenda Hatchett, star of the syndicated courtroom TV show “Judge Hatchett” will be the keynote speaker.  Cocktails and hors d’oeuvres will be served at 6 p.m. followed by dinner and the keynote speaker. A variety of raffle items will go to help support Voices, including a trip to Paris plus Cardinal seats right behind home plate. For reservations at $200 per person call 314-552-2454 or visit  

GRAND CENTER’S 2012 VISIONARY AWARD HONOREES announced last week included Susan Uchitelle who received the President’s Award.  Uchitelle is an educational consultant and founder of the Confluence Academy Charter Schools in St. Louis.  You may see her honored along with the six other women artists and art leaders in the community on May 16 at the Sheldon concert Hall, 3648 Washington Boulevard. Tickets as an Art Supporter at $55 include the cocktail party, open seating at the awards ceremony, and a dessert reception. For reservations contact Marcia Quint at Grand Center Inc. at 314 289- 1583 or [email protected].

BIG, HEARTY CONGRATULATIONS TO STAGE’S JACK LANE who has recently become a Broadway producer.  In addition to others, Lane will be a co-producer of “Peter and the Starcatchers” adapted from a novel by Dave Barry, which will begin previews on March 28 at the legendary Brooks Atkinson Theatre on 47th. Street.

FORMER ST. LOUISAN VIRGINIA BRILLIANT (her mom is Judy Brilliant) is now the Associate Curator of European Art at the Ringling Museum in Sarasota, Fla., the museum known for its huge paintings by Peter Paul Rubens. Oddly, there has never before been an exhibition devoted to the work of its preeminent artist. Now “Peter Paul Rubens, Impressions of a Master,” curated by Brilliant, will be on view in the Searing Wing of the museum until June 3, a good reason to go to Sarasota. At the show’s core are around forty engravings after compositions by Rubens from the Royal Museum of Fine Arts in Antwerp.  These will be joined by several paintings by and prints after Rubens from the Ringling collection.  According to Brilliant, “While the paintings are well-known favorites, the prints have rarely if ever been on view.”