Circus Flora acrobats perform.
By JILL MOON
June 16, 2013
ST. LOUIS — Children of all ages go to the moon with Circus Flora’s 27th big top production.
Circus Flora’s creative team found inspiration in one of the earliest films to tell a story by French magician-turned-filmmaker Georges Melies; he made the film “A Trip to the Moon”/“Le Voyage dans la lune” in 1902. An illusionist and magician by training, Melies is revered as the father of narrative cinema and a pioneer of special effects such as stop motion photography, dissolves, multiple exposures and hand-painted color.
“It’s truly a lovely old film — one of the first to tell a real kind of story,” said Circus Flora’s Jack Marsh, 28, who is the associate artistic director and a former performer with St. Louis’ premier charitable circus organization. “It’s about what they thought the moon could be in 1902 — and quite different than what we think now.”
The quintessential Melies silent film of black and white is a science fiction film. It tells the tale of a group of astronomers trying to get to the moon. Once they decide to go for it, they board a rocket and launch, landing on the moon. The film produced the iconic image of a rocket hitting the moon in its eye, much to an animated moon’s dismay.
“Melies used lots of French acrobats as performers, and had various ties to the circus world, and that’s why it transitioned to our circus world,” Marsh explained.
At the film’s conclusion, the astronomers and adventure seekers hop back into the rocket and fall off a cliff back to Earth, where a grand celebration ensues.
“It’s such a lighthearted tale and takes some really goofy turns; it’s not what moon travel means in a global arms race,” Marsh said, noting the humor of the film. “It’s just, ‘What if you went to the moon and had some great adventures?’”
Melies also was, in part, the inspiration for the 2011 Academy Award-nominated film, “Hugo.”
Marsh splits his time between New York City, where he grew up, and St. Louis, where he has performed juggling and acrobatics with Circus Flora since he was a toddler. His mother, Cecil MacKinnon, performs as Circus Flora productions’ loyal and engaging narrator, Yo Yo the white-faced clown.
“A Trip to the Moon” incorporates a world-class roster of performers and musicians into its re-imagination of the film, including the beloved Johnny Peers and the Muttville Comix, star equestrian Lisa Dufresne, Carlos Svenson and his Magical Flying Goats, the St. Louis Arches, and the Circus Flora band led by Janine Del’Arte.