By Charmain Z. BrackettCorrespondent
At a time when big name circuses were pulling up their tent stakes for good, Kevin Venardos was pitching a new red and white one.
“Circuses have been around for thousands of years. They aren’t new. Many times over the course of its existence, it’s needed to reinvent itself,” said Venardos, a former ringmaster with the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, who is bringing his Venardos Circus to Evans Town Center Park Oct. 23-Nov. 3.
Venardos’ reinvention of the circus came out of a reinvention of himself. He’d worked with several circuses, but there was a pattern.
“I’d work with them for two to three years before they wanted to change things up and go with someone new,” he said.
The only way to keep himself permanently employed was to start his own circus, he said.
Venardos’ circus is billed as a “Broadway-style” show under a red and white striped tent. It includes performers such as acrobats, aerialists, jugglers and clowns. There’s music and comedy and no animal acts in this circus.
Venardos’ circus first performed in 2014 at the L.A. County Fair. He’d created a promotional video, renting a tent and asking performers to appear in it for very little. The concept almost sounded straight out of the plot of the movie “The Greatest Showman” about another famous circus owner, P.T. Barnum.
He marketed that video and started setting up a tent attached to county fairs and other events.
“It worked really well,” he said.
Over the past few years, the circus has outgrown its attachment to carnivals and fairs and is now venturing on its own.
“We’ve gone from calling ourselves the “little circus that could’ to the ‘little circus that can,’” he said. “PT reinvented the circus, and he learned to attract people and please them.”
Venardos said what appeals to most people is what he calls the “magic” of the circus.
It’s a nostalgic thing no one can sum up. It might be the red and white tent or the cotton candy and popcorn or the performers who wow and bring joy, but Venardos said wherever they go, they bring that magic.
Shows are at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 23-26, 30-31, Nov. 1-2, 12:30 and 3:30 p.m. Oct. 26-27 and Nov. 2-3. There’s a sensory friendly show at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 30; a spooky spectacular show at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 31. The curtain opens one hour before the shows. Venardos said guests can come early to take part in a juggling lesson and meet the performers.
Tickets are $15-$35, and discounts are available including special opening night pricing. Visit venardoscircus.com for ticket information.